25 Signs of Poor Management

How much management is actually going on? Based on research and experience, this article explores 25 Signs of Poor Management (together with the consequences) and asks the question, “How do you shape up as a manager?” Check and see…

The Act of Management

Any role that involves team leadership and management requires the commitment of time, effort and skill to the act of management. Although a statement of the blooming obvious, we’ve often found that the root cause of most management problems and frustrations stem from the fact that in practice, there isn’t much management actually going on!

The Job of Manager

In particular, a manager’s primary purpose is to influence the outcome of a team’s activities and results. This is achieved via performance management, reinforcing what’s going well and addressing any occasional or on-going under-performance issues. It requires the knowledge of how to have “uncomfortable conversations” and frankly, a bit of courage to “grasp the nettle”. A lack of management training is often the root cause why these conversations are either handled badly or avoided altogether. This would provide both the knowledge of how to go about it and therefore more confidence.

Managers also need to recognise the critical role they play in the motivation, development and retention of each employee. This includes feedback, involvement, awareness to how an employee might be thinking/feeling, encouragement, praise when things are going well, etc. Take people for granted and you’ll suffer the consequences.

Self Management

One fundamental management failing is also believing in the concept of self-management. As a principle, it’s fundamentally flawed. It also indicates laziness and an abdication of management responsibility. This issue is covered in the points below.


Failure to engage fully in the act of management will affect individual, team and business performance. It will affect retention (and thus time, money and business performance). One key indicator that things need to change is the amount of time senior managers find themselves getting dragged into day to day operational issues!


Based on approaching 40 years of evaluating best and worst management practice across multiple industry sectors, here is a list we’ve put together of 25 Signs and Consequences of Poor Management. See how many you recognise or would admit to:

  1. If you don’t communicate properly, mistakes, misunderstanding and frustration will occur and time/money will be wasted
  2. If you don’t present yourself at your best, (personal appearance) you will lack influence with your team, your clients and your colleagues
  3. If you don’t prepare/conduct/follow-up your meetings, time and money will be wasted, people will get frustrated and people will try to avoid them
  4. If you don’t encourage and respect creative input, there will be a lack of pro-active input from your team. They will expect you to come up with all the good ideas and solve all their problems
  5. If you don’t organise your time and workload effectively you will have too much to do and not enough time to do it in. You will also suffer stress, deadlines will start being missed and sick leave will increase
  6. If you don’t think and plan ahead, you will spend most of your time “firefighting”
  7. If you don’t have up to date job descriptions in place, neither you nor you team will have any basis for judging if the job is being done well. As a result, people will just “be busy”, feel no sense of purpose or value and just be driven by the daily to do list. In these circumstances, motivation and ultimately retention will be affected
  8. If you don’t monitor what’s actually going on compared to what you think should be going on, productivity will suffer
  9. If you don’t regularly provide feedback to your team on how they are doing, they will think you are taking them for granted. The better ones will leave and opportunities to improve will be missed. Note – an observed trend is that younger people in particular, crave feedback
  10. If you don’t address underperformance issues, your team will operate in a “comfort zone” rather than at the level required. Furthermore, your better people will start to think “why bother” if you let others get away with poor performance/practice. Often you will find yourself making up the difference yourself
  11. If you don’t provide your team with regular coaching to develop and improve, they will never achieve their full potential. They won’t consistently deliver the best results for you either and may even slip into bad habits
  12. If you don’t prepare for those difficult “coaching conversations” you won’t get the response you need. Resentment may be caused and you may even regret what you did say or how you said it
  13. If you don’t eventually apply consequences to continuing underperformance, you will lose credibility and respect as a manager. Team performance will also suffer maybe even affecting your own job security
  14. If you treat the annual appraisal as an inconvenient, “box ticking” exercise, both parties will think they were a waste of time. The younger (more mobile) and the better team members may also start looking for other jobs
  15. If you don’t engage your team in a structured change management process when change is required, then things are likely to carry on as before
  16. If you don’t create awareness to discriminatory attitudes and behaviour and call people out in it, offence will be caused. Not only could this affect team spirit but also your company could risk legal action
  17. If you assume that because you pay well, people should just be expected to get on with the job, you will suffer low levels of productivity, motivation and retention. It is an abdication of management responsibility.
  18. If you don’t learn to adapt to the need for flexible working arrangements, you will lose good people and not get the best out of those who remain
  19. If you don’t plan projects properly, you and your team will miss deadlines and overrun on budget
  20. If you don’t have the courage to address conflicting priorities on your time quickly, openly and honestly, you will end up over promising and under delivering
  21. If you don’t think ahead and systematically develop your team, you will end up with not enough resources of the right calibre at the right time. Assuming you can just recruit the right person as an when you need someone who will “hit the ground running” is a ridiculous and costly fallacy
  22. If you fail to properly evaluate whether or not someone is fundamentally suited to a job before promoting/recruiting, you will end up with a “square peg in round hole”. This will cost you and the company time and money and affect your reputation
  23. If you don’t adapt your attitude and approach to the changing expectations of today’s younger generation of talent, they will probably leave within 12 months
  24. If you don’t actively encourage a culture of “we” (as a whole company) not “me” (as a department or individual), people will focus on their own agendas to the detriment of colleagues and company
  25. If you don’t delegate ownership, responsibility, authority and accountability, you will personally become the cap on company growth. Your better people will also leave.
Action Plan

Our guess is that you will recognise many of these! So, if you’re looking for some more tips and advice, we can help.

Have a look at the Auricas “Principles of Management and Leadership course. Expert advice and outstanding coaching is provided in 6, “bite-sized” sessions.

It delivers an essential range of “tools to do the job” for managers with new or changing responsibilities and is also an excellent refresher for experienced managers. Specifically, it addresses those 25 signs of poor management and helps managers achieve measurable improvement in business team and individual performance.

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