In this issue

  • Feature Article: Why are managers so bad at managing? Causes and what to do if this is your situation
  • Information on our upcoming workshop job search workshop, Developing Momentum in Your Job Search

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Hello Ros, 

Hello and Happy New Year. Welcome to January's Career Matters newsletter. This month, we’re looking at the causes of poor line management and how if you are affected you can build a better relationship with him or her. 

FEATURED ARTICLE: Why are managers so bad at managing?

This week a client asked me this very question. If you have been at the receiving end of a micromanaging boss, a boss that belittles or is never there to give direction, support or coaching, you may have asked yourself the same.

I’ve been training and coaching first line managers and their direct reports for fifteen years now and in my opinion, there are two main causes.

  • The first is that most managers don’t receive management training, so left to their own devices they manage the way they have been managed. Depending on their role models, those behaviours and habits might be productive – or they might not.
  • The second is that they receive some formal training and come away enthusiastic and full of ideas of how to inspire, motivate and develop their people. But implementation falls by the wayside as their environment combined with the stress of the daily job, throws these good intentions out of the window because they don’t receive coaching. Without coaching either from their manager, or a coach, to embed learning on an on-going basis, the value of the leadership training falls away.

Recent research backs this up too. Consultants Ernst and Young discovered that when allocating new first time managers a first-time coach they will get up to speed in the job six months earlier than a control set of managers without one.

So what can you do if you have a manager that at best you don’t engage with, and at worst, you can’t stand?

  1. Find something you can appreciate them for. Judging them will impact the way you subconsciously interact with your manager, which will reinforce the negative cycle. If you can shift your attention to their strengths and what do they know a lot about that you don’t, you can make life a bit easier for yourself (since judgement also drains our energy) as well as subtly change the dynamic between you. If you go a step further and appreciate them in person for something they give you or the team, (and genuinely), you can shift it further. Everyone likes to be appreciated and most people do not come to work (however unskilled they may be) intending to be terrible at it and to make your life difficult.
  2. Stay connected to what you need and want from them to do your best work, and make requests (not complaints). Everyone assumes managers should know how to manage everyone in their team and specifically how to manage you. But you might have different needs from others in the team. You do have a right to be managed by which I mean to have regular one to ones in which you share what you are working on, what’s coming up and what you need guidance or coaching on, to give and receive timely feedback (recognition for the positive as well as negative to develop and grow), help with prioritising workload and so on. What do you need? What difference would that make for you to be happy and productive in your work? Ask your manager for it, but – and this is essential – not in a demanding way but as an opportunity to begin a negotiation about what is possible for you both, given your respective commitments. I’ll be writing more about this “psychological contract” in another email.

These are just two ideas and there are more. However if after genuine work on your side you can’t repair and build a productive relationship, ultimately you might consider an internal move or job search. People leave managers not companies, and without a good relationship with your boss, you are unlikely to have the career progression or visibility you want.

If you are that manager that is struggling with your responsibilities and would like your relationships with your direct reports to be better. If you know you have blind spots but you don’t know what to work on and how to improve, receiving one-on-one management coaching outside of your organisation might be worth considering.  

Further support and information on Developing Momentum in Your Job Search

If a job search is on the cards, our Get Hired! Coaching programmes can support you individually with this.

Or if you prefer the support of a group going through the same, we’re offering a workshop called Developing Momentum in Your Job Search in central London on Saturday 3rd February.

You can book a call to discuss coaching with us through our online calendar.


Warm regards 

Tel: 07861 714529

Mob: 07861 714529

Ros Toynbee
The Career Coach
Unit 20, The Circle
Great Elizabeth Street
London, SE1 2JE
United Kingdom