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Kinds of bad managers?

We've been talking about good/bad managers in other threads.  I just wanted to throw this out:  What patterns of bad management have you seen?

1) The Bully. (Personally, I've avoided this one.  I saw some; I never reported to them)

2) The guy who pushes all decisions down; takes credit when it works and pushes blame down when it fails

3) The guy who ignores all problems until they become a crisis, in the hope that someone else ignores them.  Then, when they become a crisis, he can truthfully say "This is the first I'm hearing of it!!"

4) The incompetant that just doesn't get it.

5) The semi-competant.  This guy is worse, because he fails to see key things that are missing in the project, or key pieces of data you -will- need that you don't have.  As a result, he makes promises that -you- can't keep.

and 6, I'm not so sure about:

6) The guy who ignores every single request and idea that you have, because he's so confident of other ideas - you those ideas somehow never end in the company making much money.

I think #6 is really more like "the guy with no spine" - upper management tells him what to do, and he does it, despite every piece of advice from the guys in the trenches that it's a bad idea.

I've also seen bad business practices:

7) Loss accrue, gains do not.

This is the pattern where you bid fixed-price on contracts, and are often late - yet your profits were based on delivering the project on time.  When you deliver projects early, some poor foor is bound to point out that things were much easier than we expected, and we should give that money back to the custoemr - and you actually lower the price!  (Believe it or not, I've actually seen this.  Project costs were based on a magical hourly rate of the project.  On the rare occasion that we were early, we gave money back!  When we were late, we couldn't charge more.)

8) No incentive for success, no penalty for failure

This happens when your line workers are doing a good bit of salesmanship and finding new market opportunities, yet aren't compensated for it.  Occasionally, they actually make the deal, then the comission goes to a sales guy!

Other bad management patterns you know of?


Matt H.
Friday, April 18, 2003

#3 should be "in the hope that someone else SOLVES them"

Matt H.
Friday, April 18, 2003

I have worked in municipal government for the last several years. One particular breed of 'bad boss' that you get there is perhaps a bit similiar to #3, except that they may be aware of the problem but will defer making a decision on it. These kinds of managers inevitably have been in the civil service for a long time and thus have the 'Cover your ass' mentality thoroughly ingrained in them.

When faced with a difficult decision, one that has a possible downside risk to them, they will bend over backwards to avoid making a call on it, hoping: 1) the passage of time will make the issue moot or 2) more information will come to light in the future that will help them to make a risk-free decision.


Friday, April 18, 2003

The worst manager-type is the type that doesnt live as he learn. I have no problems with people that have very strong beliefs and lives by them, but when people expect things from others that they dont live up to themselves, it pisses me off to no end.

Examples could be,

Denying team members days off, and go on vaccation.
Expecting people work certain hours, and mgr. doesnt.
Order people to work week-ends and not work yourself.

I've seen all this.

What bad managers fail to understand is that their success is dependent on the team members. Being a manager in itself is not a goal if you can't get any people to work with you. Bad managers also consider teams to work for or under them; not with them. This often leads to failures.

Friday, April 18, 2003

the type that doesnt live as he learn

should be

the type that doesnt live as he teaches

I'll just claim to be a #4 when it comes to English :-)

Friday, April 18, 2003

I find non-technical ones to be frustrating too. How can you manage a group* that builds enterprise apps written in VB, Java, DB2 w/ Web Services and the only experience you have is working on COBOL 10+ years ago???????

*Includes gathering requirements, estimating development times, handing out assignments, etc etc......

Friday, April 18, 2003

the answer is "very easily if you were good to start with".

I have a manager (my manager's manager) who used to be deeply techie, but isn't any more. But when I (occasionally) need to talk techie with him, he is very on the ball, even if he isn't current.

Oh, and he is a good manager too.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Worst I have seen:
Hit and run management: manager ignores projects completely for weeks/months on end goofing of,and leaves the minions to fend for themselves. Then decides to get his ass in gear (this happens usually 2-3 times a year), calls for "emergency meetings", starts making micro descisions on stuff he does not know the first thing about (his only tech experience was some DB stuff in the late seventies). Of course this does not last and after a few weeks he's of to lalaland again.
Comes delivery time, he takes credit for all achievements. If anything goes wrong (now why would that be), the poor dev. that is his latest abuse victim gets a full hide.
Did I already mention he suffered from narcissism, as in  ?
You should have seen the churn at that place.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, April 18, 2003

Any management style or implementaion thereof that leads to a gross imbalance between responsibility and decision power is condemming the whole team to frustration, demotivation and ultimately unavoidable failure.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, April 18, 2003

The post above leads me to 9:

9) Manager who never makes a decision.  He either avoids them (pushes them down) or says "I'll have to check with my boss" (pushes them up.)

Offhand, I can think of at least one boss that never made a decision the entire time I was at the company.  (At least, what I would call a decision)


10) Manager that took credit for every good turn of events.  (When we needed resources, we asked for months on end.  Nothing.  Finally, I heard that leadership in another department had gone to the big boss with something like "Matt's department needs X or else we won't be able to do Y ..." -- the next morning, I got an email from the boss that he had "pushed the final mile" or something like that and we were going to get the resources we needed ... hmmm....)


Matt H.
Friday, April 18, 2003

There is a bug in this discussionboard's url matching code that in some instances takes in an extra space at the end of the url in some circumstances.
The above link should be
Hope it works now.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, April 18, 2003

How about "The incompetant micromanaging boob".  I recently had the misfortune to work for one.  This woman was one of the worst engineers I've ever worked with, and she was an even worse manager (I'm not flaming women here, just this 1 induhvidual).

Typical example.  I had to take a Win2k machine and make it dual boot linux.  This involves installing/starting Partition Magic, answering questions, letting it crunch away for 30 minutes to an hour, firing up Red Hat, answering a few questions, and letting it crunch away for 30 minutes to an hour.  So I get partition magic going and decide to eat lunch.  Finished, headed back to the lab, only to meet Miss Boob storming to my office.  "aaaargggg!  It's just sitting there, what are you doing!".  Explained, went in and got red hat going.  Then went back to my office to do work.  In she comes.  Went to the lab, showed her it was formatting the disc.  Ok.  repeat.

The whole install took a total of about 2 hours.  She came in and asked "hows it coming" 6 times.  I know, I counted them.  And this is just a typical day, no matter what the project or steps involved, if she didn't ride your ass you were sitting there staring into space.  It was horrible.

She was also meeting happy.  I remember one time she tapped us all on the shoulder and said "lets have a meeting".  Ok.  So we're all in a room, and she wants to discuss technical details of a Linux PCI driver.  Never mind only 1 guy had ever even looked at the chip manual, or had even thought of the driver.  She thought it was good management to get the entire group (even those who just wrote Tcl/Tk GUIs all day) into a room to nail down a final design.

God I hated that place.  Her boss was just as bad, the asshole promoted her.  Then his boss canned the entire department a month later, including me.

Friday, April 18, 2003

n) The process pundit.  He knows that everything will go smoothly if everyone just follows the process.  All problems and failures are attributable to a failure to follow the process.

n+1) The wimp manager.  He lets everyone tell him (and, consequently, everyone on his team) what to do, and never says "no".  If someone on his team is asked to do something by another department/group, he is told to get it done because, well, they wouldn't be asking if it wasn't important.

n+2) The empire-building manager.  He wants political power, so his policies are geared towards him having the decision-making control over everything that his team does, everyone they interact with, etc.


Friday, April 18, 2003

The firefighter. This is a variation on #3.

This manager ignores all requests for information, help, or support from higher-ups until it becomes a crisis. Then, when the "fire alarm" goes off, he leaps into action, providing the information/support/etc. that he should have given six months ago, thus saving the project from yet another crisis and proving how valuable he is.

Chris Tavares
Friday, April 18, 2003

"The process pundit."  Amen to that. I worked for one some time ago.  He also had a streak of bully in him.

We all had to bring printed status reports to Friday staff meeting - it was a rule, I mean process.  His best hardware engineer (not me), with 10 years of experience, didn't bring a printed status report with him to a meeting, and he berated the guy in front of everyone.  Did I mention that status reports had to be printed, not emailed?

I had a feeling things weren't going well there, and it was then that I readied up the resume and planned my exit.  What a screw up.

Nat Ersoz
Friday, April 18, 2003

"I find non-technical ones to be frustrating too. How can you manage a group* that builds enterprise apps written in VB, Java, DB2 w/ Web Services and the only experience you have is working on COBOL 10+ years ago???????"

They're not necessarily so bad, as long as they STAY AWAY from making technical decisions. It's those who are a little technical who are dangerous.  They like to impose their half-assed ideas on you and squash your good ideas.

T. Norman
Friday, April 18, 2003

Most of my incidents of bad management have been centered around people who don't communicate correctly with underlings.  Of course, most of my managers have been engineers who were promoted to management, so they tend to not display many obnoxious patterns of traditional MBA management.

Flamebait Sr.
Monday, April 21, 2003

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