The Extinction of Bad Management
September 30, 2015

The Extinction of Bad Management

by Brian de Haaff

I once worked for a CEO who chased people around the office. He was an angry man. Another manager I worked for threatened my career when I told him that I had accepted a role at a new company.

These stories might sound dramatic, but I do not think I am unique. Sadly, there are terrible managers everywhere.

Think of the worst manager you have ever had. She probably hoarded all the knowledge for herself and refused to support you. She was a sealed box, unable to hear others or help them grow. She made decisions based on what was best for her, not for the company. She had poor communication skills and failed to motivate her team. Do you recognize this person?

Now imagine her — and all the other bad managers you have known — gone altogether from the picture. It’s altogether possible.

I am the CEO and founder of Aha! and I have met all kinds of managers in my career. The good ones clearly communicate their vision and how they make critical decisions. They welcome feedback from others and consistently strive for improvement. Bad managers do the complete opposite. They overcomplicate situations, introduce unnecessary drama, and cover up their mistakes. They do not know how to lead or get along with people, and make it hard for everyone to do their jobs well.

Now for the good news — all this may be changing.

I am truly hopeful that bad managers are being forced out. I see four encouraging signs that this might truly be happening.

Business is moving faster The pace of business has increased quickly. This is forcing companies to improve the way they do business if they want to stay in business. The companies that prosper are the ones that recognize and eliminate inefficiencies. Bad managers must either adapt to this more responsive way of operating or bow out, taking their unproductive, dysfunctional ways with them.

Customers reward transparency Buyers are evolving, and there is an expectation of transparency at all levels. Customers prefer to work with companies that they can see through and trust. More than two-thirds of consumers in China, the U.K. and the U.S. rate honesty and transparency next to price and quality when deciding whether to make a purchase. All managers must understand and apply this mandate for authenticity and integrity.

Technology is an equalizer Technology is opening communication pathways for employees and making it easier for customers to see deeply into a company. Employees can find out what they need to know and if necessary, work around bad managers standing in their way. Customers are also taking matters into their own hands, conducting their own product research online. In fact, 88% now trust online product reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. Managers who are suspicious of the way technology is transforming behavior will find themselves out in the cold.

Employees are standing up for themselves Employees are finding that they have a voice, and a say in how they want their work life to look. Sites like Glassdoor allow employees to call out poor management practices and warn others to stay away. Job seekers are evaluating companies on the basis of how well they will be treated, as well as the size of the opportunity. Managers who refuse to recognize that the workplace has changed will find their best employees taking off for better opportunities elsewhere.

Things are simply not looking good for all those bad managers out there.

Perhaps this article will be a wake-up call to those just biding their time in management roles — a signal that they need to quickly adapt to the new business reality. If not, they can make way for managers who are ready to roll with the changes and create an environment that values respect.

Do you think that bad managers are nearly extinct?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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