6 Negative Management Styles of New Managers

Posted by Kristin Arnold on December 15, 2015

In my interviews with leaders, I often hear that managing people is one of their hardest jobs. They report working more overtime without pay, while employees with fewer responsibilities are making more money. They resent the extra paperwork and having to “babysit” disengaged employees.

This usually happens when great employees are promoted into management positions with no leadership skills training. Their resentment causes them to question their decision to even become a manager and consider requesting a reassignment back to a staff position.

Without proper coaching, mentoring or supervisory training, new managers will take on one of the six negative management types:

1) I Call the Shots:

This style is characteristic of technical professionals who become supervisors of other technical experts, yet are reluctant to give up their own expertise. For example, a salesperson who is promoted to sales manager and yet still loves to sell themselves, or an engineer who meddles in technical engineering projects. These leaders often project that “no one can do things as well as I can,” which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They will often say “let me show you how” or “it is quicker just to do it myself,” which boosts short-term productivity, but long-term proficiency and employee development will suffer.

2) Good Guy/Bad Guy:

When interviewing managers with this profile, they are more relationship-oriented. They talk about employees as either ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys’. They are either ‘with me’ or ‘against me.’ They project an ‘I like you’ or ‘I don’t like you’ attitude. Bad employees are seen as unreliable, irresponsible, and the only way to get anything out of them is to closely supervise them, resulting in a micro-management style.

This style is often seen with managers who have been promoted into a role where they do not have the technical skills nor experience so they rely more on building relationships as a strategy to productivity.

3) Play it Safe:

Many management books preach that you should ‘be an inspiring leader’ or try to ‘catch your employee doing something right.’ Managers who adopt this style are effective with moderately competent individuals or staff in very ‘people-oriented’ organizations such as social services, or health care. It’s ‘safe’ because this style of manager never really makes the hard calls, gives tough feedback or holds people accountable.

4) I’m OK, You’re OK:

This management style of assuming that everything is OK is effective with highly competent employees and those who need very little direction. However, this hands-off style will not work with inexperienced employees who require more direction or with previously competent employees whose performance has regressed.

5) I Trust You or I Don’t:

Some managers do not feel in control unless they are providing direction or developing personal relationships. This manager rarely finds a person they trust, and when they finally let go, the employee often feels abandoned and will experience performance issues because they are familiar with receiving guidance.

6) Sink or Swim:

This manager views their staff as ‘competent’ or ‘not competent’. If they think you are competent, you will be left alone. But, if you are incompetent, they will ride you and closely supervise everything you do. While this style is effective at getting new employees up and productive quickly, and solving an urgent crisis, it doesn’t enable healthy employee growth and development.

My question for managers this week: “Are you able to adjust from your conditioned style of coaching to be more effective with all levels of employees”?


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