It’s a business axiom: people don’t leave bad companies - they leave bad managers. There are any number of bad manager types and bad managing techniques, but there is only one result – they cost your business in terms of productivity or staff retention. See plenty of potential in your team, but not much production? It might be your manager. On the continuum spanning poor to superb managers, here are three especially troublesome manager types.
The problem: The Martyr has a high pain threshold and has in fact gotten use to being in pain. If they are really far gone, they welcome pain. They don’t expect to get to the end of any problem and allow problematic situations to fester. This is the supervisor who refuses to act because their world view is the ongoing problem. It’s the norm after all.
The Martyr has problems separating their personal issues with work issues and personalize a great deal. They empathize too soon and too closely with subordinates’ problems and inadvertently encourage employees to make excuses instead of holding employees accountable, requiring them to rise to challenges, learn and mature.
The Martyr also has difficulties making decisions. Making decisions requires setting boundaries and expecting resolution, an issue for the Martyr.
The Hero is problematic in business ironically for exactly the same issues as the Martyr – a high pain threshold and a problem with setting boundaries. The Hero will do everybody else’s job, take responsibility for everybody else’s mistakes and feel everybody else’s pain. This makes discipline and achieving any level of sophistication on the part of the staff a problem because the Hero jumps in and fixes things before the natural learning curve can play out. He will wear himself out bending over backwards to avoid hurting anyone feelings or to save someone the embarrassment of being held accountable.
The Child in a supervisory role is devastating for business. The Child has all the issues of the martyr and the hero but the situation is further complicated by the Child’s own expectations of being taken care of. For this type, the job is second - the priority is to be liked. Rules and order are out the window with this type in a leadership role. The hallmark of The Child is missed deadlines and chaos, a situation that undermines staff motivation and momentum.
Don’t expect to fix these tendencies in an adult. Better to not hire them in the first place – at least not in a managerial role. Check your screening and interview practices – that is your best line of defense.