The impact of bad managers

15 / 08 / 18

Let’s face it, we’ve all experienced at least one bad manager at some point in our career, the impact of which can be somewhat catastrophic. Think about it… a result, you’re frustrated, unhappy and tired and consequently utterly demotivated which is no good for you or the rest of your team. In this article, we explore the four types of bad manager, the true impact of bad managers and the knock-on effects as well as including a case study.

Types of bad manager

There are what we would class as four main types of poor or bad manager and they are somewhat different. The first is a dysfunctional manager who is simply poor at their job and/or managing their team. They are actually, pretty harmless however they are just downright incompetent at their job.

This may mean they’re weak, indecisive, lacking leadership traits/training/qualities or lazy even. Incompetence comes in many forms. If they are liked, their team may tolerate them, however, if they are disliked, discontentment will mount quickly.

As a business owner, you have to decide whether or not this is rectifiable through training, support and development or whether you simply made a recruitment/advertising mistake. This will then guide you on to your next steps!

The second type of manager, and arguably the most ‘dangerous’, is the bully; usually this person uses anger or fear to manage individuals. As a result, employees will dread coming into work and have a sense of relief when they are away from their manager. This has the most corrosive impact on both individuals and teams.

The climber is our third type of poor manager and they are characterised by excessive self-orientation. Rather than investing in their team, they would rather look good to those above, paying very little attention to those below. They can be intensely political and see peers as competitors as opposed to team members.

Finally, we have the micromanager and this type of manager is quite frankly exhausting, as they exhaust and deskill their team members, holding very little trust in their skills and abilities. They retain control over everything and therefore don’t allow their team members to make mistakes or consequently learn.

The resulting effects…

Low morale

When nothing seems to satisfy the boss, it can be difficult for employees to maintain high energy levels or enthusiasm for their job. Many managers just don’t understand the importance of praising and recognising achievements nor providing incentives for good work. As a result, employees might feel unappreciated and demotivated to perform well.

High employee turnover rates

It doesn’t matter if you’re in a large corporate of a small start-up, the fact is, bad management will have a negative knock-on effect to your employee turnover rates. It may be that the manager in question is abrasive or even incompetent. And of course, if employees are leaving as a result, this has a huge impact on productivity because, as soon as someone leaves, who is carrying out their job role? Is anyone else trained or have you already begun the recruitment process and found the correct individual? Who is able to train them?

The point is, this all takes time and as a business with an ultimate aim of making money, this is time and therefore money, you won’t want to lose.

High employee turnover rates are expensive and increase costs for recruitment, advertising and training. In fact, it’s deemed to cost around 25 – 30 % of an employee’s salary to hire a replacement. And, if the existing manager remains, without interception, the need to recruit will happen time and time again.

High sickness rates and stress

Bad bosses can take a serious psychological toll and they are the top cause of unhappiness in the workplace. Anyone who’s had a bad manager knows what it can do to your mental health and job satisfaction. One study states that 77% of employees experienced physical symptoms of stress as a result of a bad boss and 3 out of 4 employees report that their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job. A whopping 65% even said they’d take a new boss over a pay rise!

If an employee is feeling stressed as a result of a bad manager at work then they have a few options….carry on, whilst feeling hugely stressed and demotivated, take the odd sick day here and there when things really get on top of them or, visit their doctor and get signed-off from work for a set amount of time. And to be honest, none of these options are great are they?!

But what does this all mean to your bottom line? Employee absence is a significant cost to the majority of businesses in the UK. As well as the direct costs of the employee’s absence, i.e. paying sick pay and also someone else to do the persons job, high levels of sickness can demotivate those who have to take on the additional work. So, it has a huge impact on productivity and an employer’s continuation of service and ultimately, customer service levels to clients.

Poor hiring decisions

Bad Managers often portray themselves as strong leaders to upper management. So, instead of hiring the best and most experienced/talented employees, bad managers often target potential employees who aren’t likely to outshine them or question decisions. More often than not, they won’t focus on the needs of the department or the business but instead their own needs. And of course, employees who have substandard skills or training make more mistakes and decrease productivity, output and ultimately the quality of service to customers.

Case study


Manager ‘A’ started his own company and as the company grew, the need for additional employees was a necessity. He was an extremely busy man as he initially dealt with all elements of the business from sales and marketing to accounts and HR. He hired a Marketing Manager to oversee the strategy and department. However, because he was used to dealing with marketing previously, he actually found it incredibly hard to let go and ended up micromanaging, unable to let a decision be passed without his say so.

The difficulty with this was that he was so busy that he was actually extremely hard to get hold of. But the Marketing Manager became afraid to make decisions using their own judgement because manager 'A' always seemed to ‘know’ better, even though the area of business wasn’t his forte.

Not only this but he was also extremely aggressive in the way he communicated and never praised the successful work undertaken. He was extremely good at criticising and spoke down to employee ‘X’ consistently.


Employee ‘X’ felt trapped, demotivated and stressed. Their work was no longer enjoyable and they began looking for alternative employment.

The Manager in question employed various other employees in different roles throughout the business and had a similar effect, until the major investor demoted the Manager into a sales role and he no longer has a team beneath him. The team and company is now thriving – A fantastic leader is now in place, who is nurturing each and every employee. As a consequence, employee turnover is lower, motivation hugely increased, staff are much happier and productivity optimised.

It’s clear that bad management skills can have a huge adverse effect on each and every one of us and sometimes that isn’t the fault of the Manager. Sometimes, support and training is all that is required. Next week we will feature an article which offers guidance on how to deal with bad managers.

In the meantime, should you have any need for HR support, please contact us on 01453 297557 or send an email to

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