BusinessWeek: Ten Things Only Bad Managers Say

December 14, 2011

Ten Things Only Bad Managers Say:

If you don’t want this job, I’ll find someone who does.

I don’t pay you to think.

I won’t have you on eBay/ESPN/Facebook/etc. while you’re on the clock.

I’ll take it under advisement.

Who gave you permission to do that?

Drop everything and DO THIS NOW!

Don’t bring me problems. Bring me solutions.

Sounds like a personal problem to me.

I have some feedback for you … and everyone here feels the same way.

In these times, you’re lucky to have a job at all.

I agree with most of these except for the eBay/ESPN/Facebook example. I think people should work when at work and do those other things at home or during off hours. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. The rest of her examples are pretty much no-brainers.

9 responses to BusinessWeek: Ten Things Only Bad Managers Say

  1. Why is “I have some feedback for you” a bad thing to say? Or is it the “everyone here feels the same way” that is the bad part?

    I tend to agree with you about the Facebook thing EXCEPT even during work hours sometimes you need a break. If you can take a “smoke break,” why can’t you take a “Facebook break?”

  2. Take a “Facebook break” by going out and getting on my iPhone. That also keeps your personal info off the company servers.

  3. Take a “Facebook break” by going out and getting on your iPhone. That also keeps your personal info off the company servers.

  4. I don’t fully agree that “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions” is a bad thing. If that’s the end of the conversation/ the only statement or response to a complaint or an observation then I agree it is bad. But there is a time and place it is appropriate: when you have staff who are capable of coming up with solutions or suggestions for solutions and need to learn that responsibility and initiative. Then I think it makes sense to say: “when you see this problem, what do you think the right answer is? Think about that first and bring me some possible solutions to discuss with your best recommendation and the reason behind it.”

    There are plenty of inexperienced people who aren’t aware that it’s a good idea to take that initiative or know if their manager wants to hear their ideas and you have to encourage them to do so if they’re going to grow beyond being a basic line worker.

  5. The place I work blocks a lot of sites like AOL and Facebook that could let people download infected emails and files to company computers. Luckily, they don’t block “All Financial Matters”.

  6. “I agree with most of these except for the eBay/ESPN/Facebook example. I think people should work when at work and do those other things at home or during off hours. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. ”

    I think it depends on the specifics of your work and if you are salaried or paid by the hour.

    If the job is 9-5 and everyone leaves exactly at 5 or if people are paid by the hour, if they are getting overtime pay or comp time for the extra hours worked, then yes, you want them to work during work hours. However, if you expect people to attend a 9pm or 10pm meetings with China and work (from home or not) over the weekend or while on vacation without any kind of compensation than yes it is too much to ask.

    I do use the internet at work when I am not busy. I can leave at any time for “personal business” simply switching my instant messaging to “away”. At the same time I had several 9pm meetings with China and India; I also logged on a few times last month during my vacation days and on Saturday to check my email at work only to have to investigate some problems for several hours. My employer doesn’t evaluate me at the year on how I spent my time but on my accomplishments. It then compares my accomplishments relative to requirements of my positions with those of everyone else and evaluates me accordingly. Raises and everything depends on one position on the list. At no time the time spent is relevant.

    It goes both ways.

    This is an example of a company that doesn’t care about one’s browsing habits except for illegal activities. Yet it’s doing just fine:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/31/nyregion/31vacation.html?pagewanted=all

  7. “I don’t fully agree that “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions” is a bad thing.”

    It is bad because it doesn’t allow for exceptions. Yes a good manager expects that people under him or her have initiative and are able to solve problem, he should also be there if they can’t come with a solution. Some problems may involve relationships with other groups, others may simply include deadlock between members of the group arguing about a better way to do the project. A manager (or a project leader if appropriate) is supposed to lead. Yes leadership includes delegation, but if a leader delegates everything that why is he or she there?

    An example of a person who I heard didn’t want to hear about problems was John Akers. For those who don’t know he was the CEO of IBM in 1985-1993 who has the honor of being 10th on the list of “The Worst 20 CEOs” as well as the only CEO to ever get fired. He managed to bring the once great company to the brink of bankruptcy.

    It doesn’t matter if one is a CEO or a project leader of a 5-people group: (s)he should be able to come up with solutions when the people under him or her can’t find them.

  8. “as the only CEO to ever get fired.” — correction, I meant to say the only IBM CEO to ever get fired.

  9. I posted a comment but I guess because of a link it went into “moderation” folder and stayed there. So I am reposting it without the link:
    “I agree with most of these except for the eBay/ESPN/Facebook example. I think people should work when at work and do those other things at home or during off hours. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. ”

    I think it depends on the specifics of your work and if you are salaried or paid by the hour.

    If the job is 9-5 and everyone leaves exactly at 5 or if people are paid by the hour, if they are getting overtime pay or comp time for the extra hours worked, then yes, you want them to work during work hours. However, if you expect people to attend a 9pm or 10pm meetings with China and work (from home or not) over the weekend or while on vacation without any kind of compensation than yes it is too much to ask.

    I do use the internet at work when I am not busy. I can leave at any time for “personal business” simply switching my instant messaging to “away”. At the same time I had several 9pm meetings with China and India; I also logged on a few times last month during my vacation days and on Saturday to check my email at work only to have to investigate some problems for several hours. My employer doesn’t evaluate me at the year on how I spent my time but on my accomplishments. It then compares my accomplishments relative to requirements of my positions with those of everyone else and evaluates me accordingly. Raises and everything depends on one position on the list. At no time the time spent is relevant.

    It goes both ways.