If the reading material that’s crossed my desk in the last few days is anything to go by, it’s not been a good week for bad managers.

First came the Chartered Management Institute’s annual Quality of Work Life survey, which shows that negative management styles are having a huge impact on job satisfaction, well-being and working relationships. The message coming out loud and clear from the report is that if companies want engaged, productive and dedicated staff, they have to move away from the ‘do what I say’ style of management and adopt a more motivational, empowering approach.

Now I can see you nodding your head in agreement, safe in the knowledge that you personally are one of the good guys (or gals) who respect their employees, give praise where praise is due and let them get on with the job in hand. But don’t give yourself a pat on the back just yet, because according to another recent research project, bad managers are actually defined not by what they do, but by what they don’t do.

US leadership development experts Jack Zager and Joseph Folkman compiled data on 30,000 managers, as seen through the eyes of 300,000 of their direct reports. They identified 10 fatal flaws, which often don’t become apparent until someone has worked with a manager for some time – and which managers are often completely unaware of themselves.

At the Cezanne HR blog, we generally try and take a positive approach, but sometimes knowing what not to do can be just as useful as knowing what you should be doing. So to help you avoid falling into any of the common traps, here are the top five failings of bad managers identified in the research:

1. Failure to inspire, owing to a lack of energy and enthusiasm. Again and again failed leaders were described by their colleagues as unenthusiastic and passive. This was in fact the most noticeable of all their failings.

2. Acceptance of mediocre performance in place of excellent results. The poorest leaders did not set stretch goals, inadvertently encouraging mediocre performance by letting people coast along doing less work, less well than their counterparts working for better managers.

3. A lack of clear vision and direction. Poor leaders have a murky view of the future, don’t know precisely what direction to take, and are (not surprisingly) unwilling to communicate about the future, leaving their subordinates with no clear path forward.

4. An inability to collaborate and be a team player. Poor leaders avoid their peers, act independently, and fail to develop positive relations with colleagues. The worst of them view work as a competition and their colleagues as opponents.

5. Failure to walk the talk. Saying one thing and doing another is the fastest way to lose the trust of all your colleagues. The worst offenders here also pose a wider threat as dangerous role models — creating the risk that their organizations will degenerate if others behave as they do.

Hopefully that didn’t make uncomfortable reading – but if you want to make absolutely sure you’re on the right track, you can read the full list of 10 fatal flaws here.

We’d be interested to hear how you think these ‘bad’ behaviours can be turned around. Let us know what you think are the top five things good managers do really well – and we’ll share your views at a later date with other blog readers.

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Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.