Bad Management As A Result Of Poor Leadership Skills Term Paper Examples
Bad Management As a Result Of Poor Leadership Skills
Management is at least as much of an art as it is of a science. For that reason one should not be surprised when people without formal business education develop themselves into great manager, while straight-A business schools alumni fail to achieve any decent results in non-artificial environment. Efficient communication, control over emotions, quick and rational decision-making, expertise in particular fields are, among other things, the important qualities a successful manager should possess – none of them appears to be fully acquirable through institutionalized education.
Development as a manager is a constant, lifetime learning process – improvementmay come from experience, but the experience needs to be appropriately analyzed and incorporated into set of skills. Awareness of the one’s own shortcomings and persistence in attempts to overtake them is absolutely essential to anyone who strives to progress as a manager. Few people started as gurus, but many developed themselves into ones. Detecting a problem and developing a plan to cope with it is a key for improvement, for that reason this paper focuses on what constitutes a bad manager, rather than a good one.
Every manager (as managers tend to be human beings) makes mistakes – some mistakes are momentary, while the others can be fundamental and recurrent. While the managers of small and medium-sized enterprises (and particularly owner-managers) are more prone to fundamental errors, big corporation managers are not always perfect, too, in spite of high competition, high demands and close monitoring of performance. The purpose of this work is to detect the most common areas of weakness and mistakes that prevent from being perceived as a good leader by the employees and to provide an advice on how erroneous and unproductive practices can be avoided or eliminated.
– Signs of bad leadership
– Lack of communication
Communication is an essential aspect of life not only of humans, but also of all the species. Inability to communicate efficiently leads to the dropped flyballs in baseball and to family conflicts; Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers demonstrated how lack of communication between crew cabin members (due to high power distance) had been consistently leading to the air catastrophes. For businesses lack of communication can be fatal. It is hard to imagine an organization, for which communication does not play a crucial role. There are different types of communication within the firms – between the employees, between employees and customers, between the departments, between employees and managers, between managers and owners, and the truth is that managers are in center of each of them. The primary task of managers is not only to communicate messages to employees and get (and treat properly) the feedback from them, but also to ensure that communication between the employees is in place.
Communication inside the organization can be of several types. Lack of personal communication between workers (due to excessive rivalry or character discrepancy) is a negative phenomenon but not always disastrous if nonetheless people perform their professional tasks well. But lack of professional communication – consisting in failure to share important messages related to the main activity of a company – is very likely to be detrimental for the company to say the least. The healthcare industry is full with the examples where the cost of even imperfect communication can be denoted in human lives – one such a case has been described in the journal Nursing Standard (2008): a nurse detected the warning signs about the condition of the patient and undertook appropriate actions, but then cancelled them having thought that consultants believed she had overreacted – a ridiculous situation that led to a death, which could have been avoided.
Repeating instances of lack of professional communication are a very good sign that organizational changes, or at least revision of certain practices are required.
The very notion of an efficient company should imply that the employees are skillful enough to cope with their direct responsibilities relatively well, which, in turn, means that there is no need to observe closely every action. Micromanagement refers to the situation when managers pay too much attention to insignificant detail, often ignoring more important phenomena occurring in their companies. Unsurprisingly, micromanagement is most often being mentioned in a negative tone, as it is by definition an indicator of inefficiency. If the employees are constantly underperforming in small tasks, so that close monitoring is necessary, it implies that they are simply not good enough for the company, which emphasizes HR problem. If the problem is repeating and the workers are talented enough but fail to comply with company practices, it might mean that there is a problem with training process.
It also often happens that micromanagement is not due to employees underperforming, but rather due to a manager trying to impose his own style on the employees or trying to make the improvements that are not important in scale of the organization. They may also practice micromanagement to create a perception of active participation in company’s affairs, even though the energy could have been directed into more other direction, such as developing strategy and designing practices that could improve the operations fundamentally. As well as lack communication, micromanagement is an indicator that something is wrong.
– Unclear expectations
In every organization, proper goal setting is of huge importance – first of all, to maintain employees’ motivation, but also simply to provide with an idea what needs to be done. When the goals do not correspond to SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound), it is a sign of inefficiency, whereas setting targets is an absolutely essential skill that every person who wants to be a manager must have.
Unclear expectations make the evaluation of work nearly impossible, as it is hard to achieve something, which has not been properly defined. But it is even worse when one goal has been set, by the other (possibly, negatively correlated with the first one) was ignored. As a result, employee expects a credit for the achieved goal, but instead, is being criticized for a goal he other goal he was supposed to achieve but failed as he/she was not aware of it. The easiest example is when a salesperson is given a target in units of the product, and after achieving it, is criticized for selling the cheapest (the least profitable) items, which, in fact has negative net effect on company profit. Obviously, in such situation manager is at fault, as he failed to explain the goal fully.
There is an idiom “To fear is to respect”, which is sometimes being taken too seriously by individuals with certain amount of power accumulated in their hands. Apparently, the idiom is not very close to reality in the modern democratic world and rather suits to the Middle Ages – Machiavelli’s (1532) views that fear is a great tool for a Prince do not seem relevant now.
It is normal that employees do and should feel certain pressure and responsibility in their workplace – there is a reasonable amount of that needed for the optimal performance, but by no means should this pressure come in form of intimidation. It can be a productive tactics in the short-run, but in longer perspective it develops in the employees dissatisfaction with their job, which effectively eliminates any chance of the long-term relationship between employee and a company. Intimidation is likely to make an employee consider switch to other job, which is a sign of inefficiency – an efficient company strives to keep its employees.
– Poor people skills
People skills are defined as the ability to communicate with other people in a friendly way, and the term is most often being used in business. For a long-term success, it is vastly important to build relationship based on trust and respect. Big part of people skills is conflict management – a firm that fires employee after each disagreement with manager is unlikely to be successful for a long time. So is the firm, where employees do not expect fair treatment.
– Profiles of bad leadership behavior
– Being friend rather than a boss
While building relationship based on trust and respect is important for long-term success, building relationships that are too close may be actually detrimental for performance of a company. As it was mentioned in introduction, one of the characteristics of a good manager is rational decision-making, which is nearly impossible when personal relations are mixed with professional ones. Michael Lewis in his book Moneyball (2003), which tells the story of one of Billy Beane – the most efficient General Managers in the history of baseball, pay much attention to the fact that Beane never went for the road trips with Oakland Athletics – his team, so that he could not establish close relationship with any of players. As it often happens in baseball that harsh decisions on players need to be taken, he believed that it would prevent him from being completely unbiased. Moreover, he taught his assistant (who had been hired for statistical analysis mainly) to deliver bad news to the players. Efficient leader and friend are no synonyms.
– Unethical boss
In modern world, ethics is integral part of every business. Awareness of Corporate Social Responsibility becomes widespread and its notion includes treatment of the employees among other things. In most Western countries instances of such unethical behavior as discrimination or sexual harassment are not only social unacceptable, but also illegal. On the other hand, one would find it hard to sue the company if a manager lied to him or her, or did not keep the promise, but, again, it contributes to negative reputation of manager among the employees and is detrimental for long-term success of a company that is based on its employees as most companies are.
– Coming across as “Knowing it all”
There are to kinds of power in business: position power and expert power. The former is based only on the status in company hierarchy, while the latter stands on superior knowledge a leader possesses comparing to other people in the organization. The leaders with expert power tend to have more respect among their subordinate, as opposed to position power without any expert power at all, which can entail scorn.
On the other hand, leader with superior knowledge should not rely on it overly dictating the behavior in areas where his knowledge is not, in fact, superior. Besides, it is very rare that manager is better at every operation, which is being performed in the company, as employees narrow specialists in what they do. “I know it all” attitude can lead to micromanagement, the downside of which has been discussed in the first chapter.
– Avoiding bad management practices
3.1 Reasonable goals
All the goals set by managers should follow SMART criteria. They must be unequivocal, so that they may not be different interpretations of performance, and they should not be overly ambitious or, in other words, unachievable. Measurability and time-relatedness are also crucial as they add clarity to what is expected.
3.2 Performance appraisal
Performance appraisal is important not only because it helps assess how well employees perform – it is also a test for manager himself. If the goals have been set incorrectly, complying with them may lead to negative results for the company, and in this case it is manager who needs to revisit his or her actions. Performance should be evaluated exactly against the goals the employee received at the beginning of the period – otherwise there whole process is biased and pointless (Pichler, 2012). Fair and unbiased approach towards performance appraisal may hint on the areas for improvement for both leaders and employees.
Unbiased feedback is a climax of performance appraisal. A good manager should not just evaluate the performance, but to suggest the ways to improve; if performance is outstanding, reward should be provided. Providing feedback is a very subtle area of managerial performance as it is one the main sources of motivation. Criticism must be substantiate and constructive – it should not be a humiliation, at the same time praise in case of good performance should not be superfluous. Providing feedback is important, but what might be even more important is collecting feedback from the employees, who very often suggest significant improvement to business processes.
While people may have predisposition for leadership, no one is born a great manager – learning is essential. To be respected by employees, managers need to develop expert power – superior knowledge about business in general; to motivate the workers, they need to set goals adequately and provide performance appraisals and feedbacks; to maintain “good chemistry” within the company, they must have excellent social skills; to develop themselves, they need to learn.
Defining and maintaining the proper balance is a key for successful management. A good leader should be fair, respectful, friendly and trustworthy, and he/she should not become a friend; he should set ambitious goals, but no unachievable; he/she should criticize and praise the employees, but should not overreact so that they are kept motivated; he/she should have good knowledge of his/her organization, but should not engage in micromanagement; he should be perceived by employees as a leader, but not as a dictator. Maintaining this balance is an art.
Gladwell, Malcolm (2008). Outliers: the Story of Success. New York: Little, Brown, and Company.
Lewis, Michael (2004). Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. New York: Norton & Company
Pichler, Shaun (2012). The social context of performance appraisal and performance reactions: A meta-analysis. Human Resource Management. Vol. 51 Issue 5, p709-732.
Walker, Christine (2008). A fatal lack of communication. Nursing standard, 23-11, pp. 62-64.