The Three Managerial Types that Will Make You Want to Walk Out the Door—and What to Do About It

Social IssuesEmployment

  • Author Sherreccia Jackson
  • Published April 17, 2022
  • Word count 1,503

We’ve all had a manager who made us feel like we wanted to walk out the door.

For example: your manager assigned you a project that—if she would have taken one sip from the cup of reality—there would have been no way you could have completed the project by the deadline. Or: your manager talked about improving company culture all the time, but yet clearly demonstrated that he didn’t have the slightest clue how to do that himself. If this rings true for you, then this is your read today!

Over my career, I have had some horrible managers. Now that I know what I know, I realize that those bad managers just simply did not have the tools they needed to be effective. As I write this, I can hear my mother say, “Bless their little hearts.” But I would venture to say—because you are still reading—you have had some similar experiences. Either that, or your refresh button is not working properly.

In any case, I’d like to share what I’ve learned. Simply put, the workforce today is full of occupiers.

What is an occupier?

Occupiers are people who exist in a certain position, but they don't know--or have true purpose in--why they are there. They are really just sitting ducks. And what happens when you don't feel like you have a strong purpose? You simply assign yourself one. And that purpose can look a lot more like an agenda. The interesting thing about assigning yourself an agenda is that we generally assign ourselves something that we can easily meet—or control—because a challenge would put us to a real test. And that can be scary.

Just ask the person who sets a New Year's resolution to not eat sweets and then purchases Oreos on January 2nd, as a symbol of never going back to chocolate. Somehow, this person devours a whole row of Oreos while binge watching episodes of Little House on the Prairie. Darn you, Mrs. Olsen! Laura did not steal candy from your store! I’m writing from personal experience here. But I digress.

Here’s another example. What about the person who purchases a gym membership, and then, while watching TV (instead of working out), gets angry at the gym membership commercials, as if they are passive aggressive subliminal messages directed towards him, because he hasn’t set foot in the gym all month? Ouch. That’s me again.

But the point is: many people don't see their personal challenges all the way through. And becoming a good manager means that you’ll see the process of development to the very end.

Bad managers often seek to control what is on the surface, which manifests as nit picking and micromanaging of minuscule tasks. These bad managers most often fall into three categories: Clock Watchers, Error Finders, and “I already showed you how to do that one time-ers.”

Let’s start with the Clock Watchers. Clock Watchers manage what they think is easiest to control. They focus on when you get to work, how long you stay on break, and when you leave. Of course time management is important, but if this is the only focus of employee performance—with no emphasis on productivity—there is a problem. When it comes to supervision objectives, Clock Watchers don’t seem to have a good depth of understanding about employee productivity.

Clock Watchers focus on time because it is easy—and yes, it is evaluative—but it ignores product creation, which is central to the purpose of the organization. Clock watching as a management style disrupts employees’ ability to participate in a creative process that would produce the overall organizational output objectives. The question that should be asked of Clock Watchers is: Do you have the capacity to manage the production that is happening each work day, as well as the employees’ life cycle?

Next, there are the Error Finders. These managers are quite interesting, because what Error Finders see in their employees is themselves. The employee is a mirror to the Error Finder. The only way Error Finders would ever feel managerial worth is to find flaws in every little detail, in order to build their own importance to a point of relevance—almost like a medicine—to make them feel better. Generally, you see this play out in Error Finders bringing unnecessary or displaced critique when not warranted. For example, an Error Finder will call attention to things such as an “an” in a DRAFT document in front of a vowel, instead of an “a.” Clearly, they have completely overlooked the content to see the flaw, and their critique is a feeble attempt to express power.

In this situation, I can hear my mother say, “Child, please.”

Another Error Finder example would go like this: Perhaps you stumbled over a word in a presentation, and all your manager could focus on was that one stumble--even though the rest of your content was delivered very well.

A classic hallmark of the Error Finder comes forth at staff meetings, when other people have signed on to the agenda to discuss important points. Throughout the meeting, the Error Finder will dominate—and end up being the only one talking. These managers want to be in control of errors, so they can put the superhero cape on and fly to rescue, as if they are not responsible for the whole operation.

If it is not clear at this point, Error Finders have some serious problems. And in my opinion, out of the three, this managerial type can give a devastating blow to an organization’s turnover metric. Even worse, employees working under the Error Finder suffer some real post-traumatic effects.

Finally, we get to the “I already showed you how to do that one time-ers.” These managers lack patience and empathy with training information. In their minds, having to repeat processes indicates a lack of intelligence, and they use subtle fear and intimidation tactics to deter additional inquires. Thus, that is the reason they want to bully you by saying, “I showed you how to do that already.” These managers are known to say, “I learned it on my own, and nobody really showed me how to do it.” So they think you should magically know what to do. It’s basically the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality—but on steroids.

These managers are culture killers. The reason they are so negative and safeguarded with the information they give is that they don't understand the process—or how to execute it—themselves. The sad part is that they would show you how to do it, gladly, if they knew how to do it! Instead, they rely on the protection of their title as “manager” to keep them safe.

As Bruce Coville wrote, “Withholding information is the essence of tyranny. Control of the flow of information is the tool of dictatorships.”

So that wrath—or that urge to walk out the door—that you are feeling is actually your incapable manager’s own inability to demonstrate competency in the area he is training you in. Most people—and good managers, especially—understand that there are multiple learning styles, and that someone might not comprehend all information by being shown something once.

However, when the person training you has minimum depth herself, you can almost guarantee that what she has to give you will be what she can control. More often than not, what she can control is her attitude. So attitude is what she gives you.

All three poor management scenarios above have one thing in common: a lack of capacity. Webster’s Dictionary defines capacity as the “ability to contain or deal with something; mental or physical power.”

And it takes capacity to lead. A leader who has demonstrated capacity understands that it is important to properly train, evaluate, and monitor information for productivity. If there are employee deficiencies, a manager with capacity will monitor said deficiencies and develop a growth plan for the employee, to foster professional development.

Remember, the bottom line in the workplace is respect—employees for managers and managers for employees. When people don’t feel respected in the workplace, especially by their managers, low productivity will inevitably follow. Managers who aren’t leading with their employees’ creativity, individual learning style, and sense of personal agency in mind are doomed to create a toxic work environment in which employees cannot thrive. And employees who do not feel respected should probably reconsider whether that job is the right place for them.

Whether you do decide to stay or leave, hopefully you can find the courage to talk to someone in upper management about your difficulties. Many times, the managers described above have polished their facades so well that upper management is unaware of their deficiencies. Take a moment ask for help, know your chain of command, and understand how to use it. Even if it is your first day.

Hello my name is Sherreccia Jackson and I am the CEO of Developing Dreaming Young Minds. I have over 20+ years in Management, Education and Human Resources sectors. Developing Dreaming Young Minds is a career consulting and preparation organization that partners with career and vocational schools. It is our goal to equip youth with employability skills. Our website is ddym.us.

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