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People don’t leave companies; they leave Bad Managers – Marcus Buckingham

I am sure, you must have heard this idiom. It is an age-long saying but still relevant in today’s scenario?

Have you ever categorized your bosses into good or bad managers?


I am sure, you must have thought and analysed them at some point in time.

We all do…

Even I have done it many a time when I was a full time working.

In my case, I am extremely fortunate to have good bosses, throughout my corporate career who really cared for me.

It is my last boss whom I admire the most. He always inspired me to do my best, supported me when I needed the most without me saying a word. He is a perfect leader, a boss every employee desire to work with.

Your boss has a big influence on:

  1. What are your daily responsibilities?
  2. How do you feel coming to your workplace/office?
  3. What would be your career path? How your career would shape up?
  4. And many more…

Your workplace is like your second home. You tend to spend at least a third of your days’ time into the office premises. Not to mention, the most productive hours of your day

Loving what you do and having a good boss is extremely important for peace of mind.

Everyone has a different perspective for a good boss or a bad boss. And the same person could be good for someone and at the same time bad boss for the other. It is all perception driven.

There are some common traits which are typical to good or a bad project manager.

So, let us drill down to find out more about good managers and bad managers.

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Characteristics of a Good Project Manager

What is it, that sets the good project manager from others?

Why is it, some managers always get good projects and bigger client portfolio, while, some struggle to get one big account?

Good project managers treat people like human way and not machines. They believe in their instincts and follow what they feel is right. They understand and capitalize on the uniqueness of each person of his team. He plays with the strengths of each individual to attain the success of the project.

Here is a list of 10 Common characteristics of a Good Project Manager

1. Communication

Communication is the key to success. Ensures to provide enough information in the right way. Shares complete information required about the project with the team members. Manager is involved with everyone in terms of communicating clearly on the expectations and priorities. He is transparent in providing information to make the best possible decision.

2. Focus on completion

A good manager always wants his project to finish. He is focussed on his project from beginning to end. He moves to the next assignment only when the key project in his hand is complete.

3. Possess the requisite credentials

A good manager has all the required traditional to do a project for which he is hired.

4. Consummate professionalism

He avoids telling challenges not related to project and irrelevant information to himself. And does not disclose problems about his personal lives.

5. Trustworthy

A good manager is trustworthy. He can be banked upon for completion of the project with available resources, budget and time. He prefers to work autonomously without any supervision or oversight.

6. Hire good people for the project

A good manager always brings good and competent people on board.  Doesn’t take anyone in his team because of his friendship or favor. Also, he is known to get away with non-performers from his team. Inspires and attracts the best talent apt for the project

A good manager has a skill for having a good eye on the talent. He focusses more on the right people to hire for a project. The success of the project directly reflects his capabilities.

7. Mitigate risks

A good manager foresees the risk involved in the project and tries to minimize the same timely. Also, he ensures to communicate the same to his team members for finding solutions for the challenges that may arise.

8. Budgeting

A good project manager works on every detail on all price points. He sticks to his budgets and ensures that his costing is well planned from beginning to end. He always aims for maximum output within the allocated budget for his project.

9. Track the project

A good manager keeps a track of his progress and always keeps the management and his team members updated with the latest reports and development.

As the saying goes:

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Ronald Reagan

Facts of a Bad Project Manager

How many of you have thought about this while staring blankly at your computer screen or while taking a short break?

“I hate this job. I will quit this, the moment I find a new one!”

Here are 14 traits of bad project manager

1.    Self-Centred

Doesn’t show any appreciation or recognition for the efforts taken by the team members. Only boasts about his contribution.

2.    Takes Credit

A bad project manager takes credit done by others.

3.    Indecisive

They are incompetent in taking decisions. They try to delay as much as they can even in a situation where quick decision making is required.

4.    Stubborn and Lacks Humility

They believe that they are always right in every situation and decision. They are inflexible in their approach.

5.    Resistant

A bad project manager is resistant to change even if it is good for the project. They are unable to understand that some changes are good for success.

6.    Fear

They are insecure and fear that his team members can outperform him. And doesn’t understand that his team success is his success.

7.    Micromanage

A bad manager micromanages every single detail by himself. He doesn’t trust his team member. Neither he delegates any decision-making authority. This micromanaging not only demotivates his team members but also leads to delay in taking decisions.

8.    Favouritism

He always plays a game of his favourites who generally do not argue or counter him.  He is complacent about poor performing or toxic team members if they are in his good books. This leads to demotivate other capable members of the team to perform effectively.

9. Visionless

He doesn’t have clear visions about the projects. He lacks long term planning, preparing for foreseeable risks, and a clear understanding of the objective and results of his project.

10. Arrogance

A bad manager only brags about what he does, typical ’I’ type manager, who never uses ‘we’. This is one of the worst traits which highly demotivates the efforts put in by the team.

11. Emotion

A bad manager takes decisions on what he feels is right instead of seeing and analysing facts and figures. The entire project suffers because of his decision making based on emotions and not data.

12. Blame

A bad project manager always looks for excuses for his failure. He never takes any responsibility and blames other people and team members for mistakes. They never support their team members.

13. Neglect team building

The harmonious team always produce better results. It helps in better coordination among the team members. But a poor manager does not care about the team intact. Instead, he is so insecure that he always wants his team members to have conflict among them.

14. Lacks workplace Value

An inefficient manager is unable to gauge what is important for the project and organization

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or get all the credit for doing it.” – Andrew Carnegie

Difference Between Good and a Bad Manager?

True Project Leader or Bad Project Manager? [INFOGRAPHIC]

I am sure, you must have understood typical personalities of both the types of managers. If I correlate with sports. A bad or average manager plays checkers, while, a good manager plays chess.

I know you got confused?

You can’t make any sense out of this.

Listen to this,

If you know the game checkers. In this game all the pieces are consistent. They move in the same way and are interchangeable. Though you need a lot of coordination and planning in their movement they all move in the same direction. Like a train track parallel to each other.

While, if you see chess as a game. One has to be a good observant, strategist and has to think ahead of the other players game plan. And it will be difficult for you to play if you do not know how each counter moves.

A good project manager identifies these unique qualities of each individual (like each counter in chess), the role in which they are best. And accordingly, he integrates the strength of each team member in a coordinated manner for the success of the project.

Let’s have a look at 10 traits which distinguishes a good project manager with a bad one

No Good Manager Bad Manager
1 Is a great listener Doesn’t care what others say. Is like a blank wall
2 Always encourages team members Doubts capabilities of his team members
3 Is a good communicator and shares all the information with team members Do not share clear information with subordinates. Is secretive about the work
4 Is courageous. Do not fear in taking risky proposition and difficult decisions Is very intimidating
5 Has a good sense of humour Has a bad temperament
6 Shows empathy towards his team members Self-centred. Doesn’t seem to care about his team members
7 Takes responsibility for the entire project, team members, failure Always blame others for even smaller mistakes
8 Decisive Indecisive
9 Humble towards everyone around him Arrogant with people especially working under him
10 Shares authority with team members Do not trust his team members. Keeps everything to himself

How to identify: Do you have a Good Manager or a Bad One?

Managing a project in business can be a blessing or a painful affair. And project management is not everyone’s cup of tea.  Good project managers make the things flow smoothly, keep everyone in the loop and always strive for success. 

On the other hand, a bad project manager confuses the entire team. The team is always burnt out. The entire project is a mess and chaotic.  The quality and deliverables are affected by a bad project manager. The team is always exhausted with no clear direction. The chances of project failure are much higher with this kind of a manger.

The important question is how to identify if you have an effective leader or are under a bad manager?

Signs of Good Project Manager

A good project manager is among the best person you have around. He focuses more on how to lead a team than managing his team. This way he accomplishes more as he encourages his team members to work independently with minimum supervision.

Trusts their decision making and expertise to solve problems. Understands the importance of team building, relationship and alliance. Empowers his team with authority.

Another sign to look for is, a good manager is a good communicator. Keeps everyone engaged from beginning to end of the project. Answers all the why’s and what’s related to the project. It provides complete information and clarifies all confusion.

The third sign is: he puts his team’s interest before his own. Ensures his team has everything they need. He understands that his success depends on his team’s success. Cares for his employees. The best example is if his team has to do late sittings, he is the one who orders dinner for them. This small gesture has a huge impact on the productivity and performance of the team members.

Signs of Bad Project Manager

A bad project manager will always keep all the controls to himself. Even if he gives freedom to anyone, he takes the final decision. In short, it only looks like he has given freedom of work, but in a real sense, no authority has been delegated. He doesn’t trust his team members decision aiming capabilities and wants to be present in every meeting and mails.

 He calls every person in the meeting whether he is required or not. This way he confuses all the members. He never values others time, starts the meeting late, and wastes a lot of time talking on irrelevant points instead of focusing on key points of the project.

A bad leader does not help his employees in solving their problems. The picture (from below is a perfect snapshot which summarizes bad project managers. 

What Makes A Bad Project Manager - ThinkThyme

Once you have identified the type of your manger.

Next step is what to do?

Can you do anything?

Well, most of the time no. You do have a choice to choose your mangers or to quit bad managers.

The only thing you can do is to understand the overall goal of the project and your organizations. We should help each other and work towards attaining the success of the project and overall objective.

Bad project managers can also teach you a lot of things: like what not to do when you become a project manager in future.

Either way, you can always learn from any type of manager. Focus your energy on good things and learning for your success.

Identifying categories of bad bosses

Well, once you have identified if your boss is a good or bad project manager. The next step is to understand how bad?

A bad project manager doesn’t mean he is bad or he doesn’t want to be categorised into a good manager. Sometimes, he just doesn’t know a way to figure out how and what to do?

Bad project bosses are categorised into 3 types:

Type 1: Don’t know he is bad

This type of boss has absolutely no clue that he is not a good manager. He is in his world of delusions about himself.

 You will find himself saying:

Who me, a bad project manager, really, who says so?”

Doesn’t accept that he could be a bad manger. He is just ignorant about the facts.

 Type 2: Knows they are not good and want to improve

This type of boss knows that he is not good enough. He does messes up with managing the project. He doesn’t know, how to handle the project, the team and how to overall manage the things.

You will find himself saying:

“Ya, I know I am not good enough; I am completely messed up.
It is difficult for me to manage certain things.
I am a little stressed out about handling this project. But I don’t know a way out”

But, this type of manager is ready to learn. He doesn’t know how to improve himself. So, if proper guidance and training are given to this type of manager by the higher management, they can do wonders and excel in projects assigned to them.

 Type 3: Doesn’t care at all

This type of boss does not bother to be categorised into any type. He simply doesn’t care.

You will find him saying:

“I don’t care. You like it or not.  It’s my way or highway.
Just simply do it what is being told”

This type of manager is arrogant and non-flexible. It doesn’t matter to them what his team members do or feel. What is the project all about, timelines etc? He is self-centred and difficult to work with.

You do not learn anything from the project, despite working on it. As your manager didn’t care for your progress. All he wanted was the completion of the project.

How to deal with a bad boss professionally?

Imagine you are stuck with a bad project manager, who doesn’t give you any clear directions.

Whenever you ask questions, there is no definite answer.  And he keeps on changing his viewpoint and strategies every time you goto him to show the progress of your job.

Now, you cannot leave your job just like that.

What to do in this scenario? How to handle this tricky situation?

3 strategies to handle bad project managers

  1. Talk to your boss: This should be the first thing you should do. Tell him clearly what are your needs, what inputs you want from him in terms of direction, feedback and support.  You can also ask him indirectly as to how you can contribute to achieving the project goals.
  • Seek a mentor among other project managers: Look for a mentor around who can guide you on how to handle your manager.
  • Go to bosses’ boss: Talk to your super boss for assistance. But ensure you don’t hurt your boss’s ego, as you still have to work with him. Talk in a smart manner.

Role played by a good boss in shaping your career

A manager or boss is someone who manages and is responsible for your daily work activities. He is the one who coaches or mentors you to perform effectively.

There are many studies done by agencies and big corporates like Google, Forbes etc which shows how managers quality affects the productivity of the employee. A good project manager always leaves a positive influence on his juniors. He can enhance the overall performance of his team members. And under his guidance, the employee quit ratio is also minimum.

I remember with my last boss, none of us ever left, the entire team was together for more than 5 years. I never realized this to be an important aspect. He made us all grow along with him.

There was another research done, which showed when an employee moves from messy manager to a good and organised project manager, the productivity of the worker is increased by 50%.

That’s a big number. Working under a good manager also helps with your personal productivity. He truly inspires you to become productive in whatever task is assigned to you.

A team member looks at his manager as best learning happens with an example.

Good Managers have certain universal traits:

  1. They coach and teach
  2. Offer insights which fit with the overall project and company’s strategy
  3. Invests time for your development
  4. Creates opportunities for you to grow
    1. Encourages you to do your best
  5. Exposes you to different environments for you to reach your full potential
  6. Give regular feedback which helps the employee to strengthen his strengths and improve upon his weaknesses
  7. He recognizes your unique qualities and assigns roles as per your capabilities. He keeps on swapping the roles to groom you.
  8. The most important thing: he highlights your work in front of his senior. He never takes credit for your work.

In simple words a good manager is poised and directly affects:

  1. Employee happiness
  2. Satisfaction
  3. Productivity
  4. Performance
  5. Work happiness

Managers also play an important role:

  1. Is a major influencer on your work and priorities
  2. He is critical for your promotion and other bonuses.
  3. To help you to resolve your issues and challenges
  4. Communicates with for your benefit.

It is apparent how a good manager can influence your work and productivity, your overall happiness.

A good manager will always teach you something valuable which can further make you contribute to make the organization a better place to work.

How to be a Good Manager???

Five distinctive characteristics of a successful project manager ...

Every individual aspires to become a good project manager.

Have you ever heard anyone saying “I want to become a bad manager or messy project leader”?

The problem is they don’t realize they are bad or they do not want to change themselves. And the worst many of them: what exactly one should do to improve or what are the methods followed by good managers.

Here, are some tips for you to become one, to lead and inspire juniors around you.

A good manager always supports his team members no matter what like a family. He ensures his team members have quality work, they are motivated enough to perform to their best, he is available for discussions, always plays on their strength and not weakness.

The more the team members find reasons to stay and thrive, the better they will work towards the project assigned to them.

15 Qualities of a Good Project Manager

  1. Is a good coach
  2. Empowers the team
  3. Expresses an interest in employee well-being
  4. Is results-oriented
  5. Carefully listens and shares information
  6. Helps with career development
  7. Has a clear vision for the team
  8. Poses key technical skills
  9. Give timely feedback and constructive criticism
  10. Believes in knowledge sharing
  11. Ensures that team has everything they want to get the job done
  12. Provides challenging work
  13. Is accessible and available
  14. Communicates regularly with all his team members
  15. Measures performanced-bad-project-mananger

Effective leaders make efforts to define the expectations and standards that create the performance culture to achieve the ultimate target of an organisation.

Do share your story of a good or bad boss you encountered in your career in the comment section below. I would love to listen to them.

And Always remember,

The difference between a boss and a leader (good boss)

A Boss says – GO
And a Leader says – LET’s GO – E.M Kelley

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  1. An insightful read that emphasizes the impact of a project manager’s actions on the success of a project. It’s crucial to choose the right person for the job. I highly recommend this course from HENRY HARVIN.

  2. This blog highlights the importance of effective leadership in project management and provides valuable insights into the characteristics of a successful project manager

  3. Balistra yadav Reply

    Interesting article on the distinction between a good and bad project manager. A must-read for anyone looking to improve their project management skills.

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