Lifting the taboos! There are some very bad managers… It’s time to admit it and take action…

Today, we bring you an article which may be a little shocking, but which has a real desire to make Managers aware of certain taboos that need to be lifted…

Some managers in your organisation do damage!

This manager, who may have claimed to have very good management experience, may have sold you on his merits to get the job, and you believed him. Or you may have assumed that being an excellent expert would make them an excellent manager. Recruitment mistakes are quite common in management positions, as is the promotion of certain employees to managerial positions.

To err is human, let’s face it… But burying your head in the sand is much more embarrassing!

The absence of decision and/or action is a decision in itself… It amounts to letting the situation fester…
The manager who is not in his or her place makes one blunder after another, and the way is clear for an increasing rise in what are now known as psycho-social risks!

In your defence… Not everything is visible, and it’s not always an ostrich problem, but rather a mole problem, if we want to stick to the animal metaphor 🙂 To get out of the dark, you sometimes need good glasses.

Ostrich or mole?

Most managers complain that they find it harder to manage their staff than the business itself… And it’s true that it’s not the easiest job.

Between the new generations who want to move on even before they have proved themselves and the older ones who sometimes dread any change as soon as they hear the word change, it’s easy to give up… These examples are stereotypes, which you will of course be able to qualify.

To the credit of many executives, if they were alerted to the lack of skills of some of their managers, their professional lives would certainly be easier. Seeing your best staff go and retaining those you would have liked to see go is a real blow… So how can this be avoided?

It’s sometimes difficult to accept what you see, just as it can be complicated to face up to difficulties, especially when it’s not your comfort zone or you have ‘better things to do’. But leaving bad managers in place in your company is one of the worst decisions you can make.
And yet… It seems to me that there are bad managers in every company, and this situation has been going on for decades.

The best employees are crying out for organisational justice.

Paul is leaving the company where he has worked for 10 years. When his friends and family asked him why he had left, he replied:

“I‘ve been doing my best to develop this company for 10 years. What’s more, I’m really attached to it. But when I see that every month we pay managers in our company who are totally incompetent, that everyone knows it, but nothing happens. I tell myself there’s nothing left for me to do here

Sandrine and Mickaël are recognised within the company as poor managers. But nobody dares admit it to the boss. He’d ask: “But who made such a recruitment mistake? Or they would be forced to admit to a mistake in which they played a part. The fact remains that Sandrine and Mickaël have a high turnover rate in their department, even though they manage large departments. Mickaël manages logistics, and customer service picks up on his blunders all the time. Sandrine manages part of production, and her No. 1 hides his mistakes because he chose her and doesn’t dare admit his own error of judgement…

Paul used to manage the sales department, and he’s fed up of trying to get contracts, which are more often than not derailed by poor logistics, and production with an unusually high scrap rate (delivered to the customer’s premises…).

Paul has left, Mickaël and Sandrine are staying… The best people go elsewhere to see if the grass is greener, and the worst people continue to run the company into the ground…

If the manager doesn’t know who to lean on in his company, because it’s too big or because he can’t see everything clearly… Perhaps it’s time to carry out a real diagnosis of his managers.

If the manager is already aware of the situation and isn’t doing anything about it… Perhaps it’s time for him to summon up the courage to take the right decisions.

Taking a ‘bad manager’ out of management is not inhumane – it’s a relief for everyone!

It’s now 7 years since we launched the Assess Manager management test. Every day, we conduct test debriefs with managers at all levels: managers of managers, operational managers, project managers, etc.

And of course, excellent managers and poor managers. That’s the way the business world is, and in every company some people are in the wrong job.

I used to be inclined to say “let’s not talk about bad managers” but rather managers who need to progress or who are out of step with the corporate culture. Let me come back to what I said… I erred on the side of benevolence.

Some people are not cut out for management, and we can train them to improve and reduce the perverse effects of their incompetence, but sometimes we go against nature, and that doesn’t help anyone!

There’s a good job for everyone, and sometimes there’s a vocation that hasn’t been found…

Redirecting people towards the right job rather than trying to turn them into unnatural managers is often much less costly than all the direct and indirect effects of keeping a manager in a job when he or she is not cut out for it.

That’s why we talk about relief, because these test debriefings have enabled us to make one observation: managers who are suffering are mostly relieved when they can talk about their difficulties without feeling judged. Some will be in denial, because they have no confidence in their ability to bounce back. But that’s another subject, for which we’ll give some hints below.

Some managers dream of another job but don’t dare say it for fear of being fired.

So what is the profile of these managers who are wreaking havoc in your company and who are themselves suffering?

There are several types of typical profile, and you may be able to recognise some of them.

– The ambitious…

These are the people who only look after the competent members of their team and allow the skills gap between team members to widen, creating tensions and problems of over-stress and hypo-stress… They evolve quickly by highlighting the work done by those who have given their all. Yes, in this case, the most competent have to do the work of the least competent to fill the gaps… They are certainly the worst managers and the least easy to detect, and also the ones who move up the organisation chart the quickest, leaving behind them the pangs of their incompetence for whoever replaces them. A difficult legacy…

In reality, these managers are not the ones who are suffering; the suffering is more concentrated in their teams.

– The febrile…

There are also managers with little courage, who don’t know how to get their teams on board and instead side with the complainers as soon as a change is announced by management. They make employees look like victims of a lemon-press system, when it could be quite different if only they knew how to organise, communicate, unite and give meaning to actions and decisions…

These managers are suffering, and they’re taking their teams down with them. All victims, bending over backwards and sometimes rebelling.

– The perfect experts…

There are also the super experts, who know how to do everything and feel that their legitimacy lies in their expertise, and can’t let go of this role to take on that of manager. They take over from their teams as soon as they are in difficulty, and their skills are praised on a daily basis because they have become indispensable. They undermine the company by becoming indispensable people who don’t pass on their skills to their colleagues. What’s more, the more they do “in the place of”, the more they are overwhelmed, the more their employees lose autonomy, and the more they tend towards potential burnout.

They are in paradoxical pain: reassured of their legitimacy, but victims of the system they have set up to be indispensable.

The list could be much longer, but these 3 examples have one thing in common: they are difficult to detect… Ambitious people get excellent results, febrile people are highly valued, and experts are highly technically proficient.

But in all 3 cases, these are managers who are undermining the company.

– The soft ones…

There are also the weaklings, who don’t really know what to do and let the boat drift. No objectives, no real organisation, no optimisation. Teams go with the wind, sometimes two people do the same task without even realising it, meetings aren’t really meetings, mistakes are repeated every year without any real fundamental corrections being put in place. But they don’t make any noise, and things seem to run more or less like this. It’s just routine…

Do you know how to detect them?

Perhaps reading the descriptions was enough for you to recognise them. Or maybe they’re well hidden. The size of the company plays a role here. Your proximity to the teams may also play a part in your ability to spot them. And there are many other criteria too: your own management style, your high standards, the degree of trust established, the company culture, etc.

Assess Manager provides you with a fast, reliable solution for diagnosing your managers.

  1. You’ll be able to identify which managers have potential for development and could be your talents of tomorrow.
  1. You can also identify managers who are suffering, or whose management practices are unsuitable.
  1. Finally, you will be able to target the areas in which managers could benefit from making progress (personalised and optimised training plan).

A diagnosis that will undoubtedly help you make decisions to get your company back on the road to growth.

But should you get rid of bad managers?

There is no single answer to this question. The bigger the company, the bigger the options. The smaller the company, the more potentially costly the solutions in the short term.
A bad manager can be an excellent expert, manager, etc. He or she has qualities that may be directly related to the company. He or she may have qualities that are of direct value to your company… Or not.

What are your options?

French law protects employees, so it’s legally preferable to find win-win solutions. On the other hand, if the company has made a casting error, it’s a good idea to take responsibility for the mistake.

The first step is to check the diagnosis and assess the manager’s ability to progress.

If the signal is green, this is the simplest solution to implement without delay.

On the other hand, if the signal is red, he’ll certainly be aware of it himself. And that’s your lever for action. Whatever the case, there’s one thing you need to bear in mind…

A manager manages an average payroll of 400KE.

If he fails, he costs his team an average of 10% to 50% in lost productivity, and sometimes more. In other words, his incompetence represents a loss of earnings of 40 to 200 KE of payroll per year… Perhaps the investment in finding a solution will quickly pay off when you look at the problem in terms of lost revenue rather than immediate expense.

The practical options available to you:

– A skills assessment to help the manager find his or her way will cost an average of 2 to 3,000 euros with a very good firm.

– Good quality, targeted management training will cost the same.

– Coaching can cost between €3,000 and €10,000, depending on the coach. There is a huge difference in prices between practitioners.

– Complete support until you find another position externally (outplacement) will cost an average of 15 to 20% of your gross annual salary.

We can recommend partners to implement all these options if you don’t know any. But if you do, simply pick up the phone to consult them if you have already carried out a full diagnosis of your managers.

– Internal mobility to a position that suits your employee’s skills will be a no-cost operation and the most desirable, as long as the communication around this change of position is positive and the salary of the new position is in line with that of colleagues who could potentially occupy a similar position (organisational justice obliges…).

These are just a few options.


In any case, all the solutions we have just discussed are lower than the cost of inaction…

What do you decide to do?

To go further with Assess Manager