|Bad managers make great teachers (Back to Resources)
Stuck in a job with a bad manager? I can say that I’m proud to have been hired and fired by some of the worst (and best) managers. Too bad it wasn’t until much later in life that I realized what a wonderful learning opportunities those were!
With today’s shortage of qualified people, companies don’t always have the luxury of hiring the most qualified person for the job. As we know, sometimes you get a manager who isn’t qualified or best suited to their new leadership tasks. Luckily, I’ve learned: bad managers make great teachers.
I’ve had friends complain about bad bosses. In fact, I have been known to grumble about a few myself. I complained until I realized that no one enjoyed hearing me gripe. Not only that, what was the point? Creating an ulcer certainly wasn’t doing me any good. Finally I figured out bad managers make great teachers.
My revelation came to me while I was working for a large telecommunications company. I had the opportunity to observe many of the managers people were complaining about. What were the complaints? Could they be validated? This is when I started my leadership journal. It was entitled, “What NOT to do when you’re managing people.”
Through observation and discussion with colleagues I determined certain criteria that qualified someone to be a “bad manager.” It’s true; you can qualify to be a bad manager. Managers who were indecisive or provided no direction were viewed to be ineffective. Those who “micromanaged” their staff without giving them the chance to act or think on their own were viewed as too controlling. This left no chance for creativity on the job.
The two biggest complaints however, were managers who offered no recognition for hard work or success. There is no better feeling than to have someone come to you unexpectedly and say you are doing a wonderful job. Wouldn’t it be nice to receive a card at your desk highlighting your accomplishments on a task or project recently completed? This was something I received from one of my managers once. It took only a few minutes of his time, but it was posted at my desk for over a year as a reminder to me that he noticed my efforts.
I once observed a manager whose office was directly outside the cubicle of their employee. She didn’t come over to the employees’ desk (about 6 feet away), she actually picked up the phone and called him to her office. He arrived and she did commend him on a job well done, but then followed up with a battery of questions about the progress on 3 or 4 other projects. Why not just let the employee feel good about the one accomplishment and follow up with the other projects at a later time?
When people receive recognition from co-workers and managers they tend to be more successful. Why? People are motivated to repeat the behaviour. Lee Iococca once said, “Management is nothing more than motivating other people.” In other words, if you have the ability to convince someone they are doing a great job, they will want to do it again…and again, and again.
Surprisingly, I still have my little leadership journal (ok, it’s actually more like a bunch of papers clipped together.) The lesson I wrote about most often and remember frequently is that people want to succeed. Even bad managers are good teachers, but if you’re lucky enough to work with a good manager, you have found yourself a lifetime mentor.
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Michelle Devlin, B.Comm is a professional speaker, facilitator and consultant who works with corporations and individuals looking to improve their public speaking and communication skills. For tips and information about working with Michelle visit www.seriouslyspeaking.ca or call 780.918.6972.
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