Why Horrible Managers Thrive

jibberjobber_horrible_managerI was recently talking to a friend about a horrible manager he works under. The stories he tells… yuck. Not creepy or inappropriate, but just horrible, horrible leadership.

A few months ago I was chatting with a colleague about a horrible, horrible VP he worked under. Again, not creepy, but the types of management and leadership stories that make you cringe and think “I’d never work for that person.”

I bet most of you have stories of horrible bosses.

Why does this happen? Why is it this still a thing today?

I have theories. None of them are good.

My theories are generally based on two things:

The first has to do with the bad manager. I think the “bad” manager might be super charming (like a narcissist can be super charming), and this gets them their job. Maybe, they continue to be super charming to those above them, but horrific to those below them (on the org chart). Management doesn’t really see this because they are too busy with their own stuff and have more of a hands-off leadership style.

The second has to do with very poor leadership above the bad manager. Assuming the leaders know there are problems with this person, for various reasons they don’t address the problems head-on. Perhaps they are afraid of the bad manager. I knew someone who had so much dirt on the owners of an organization that this person was assured a long career and a great retirement (she had a lot of power). I knew someone who was just a bully, and the leadership above this person was afraid to do anything lest they be bullied. Just a couple of the many, many examples.

What is baffling, to me and the JibberJobber users I’ve talked to about this (they bring it up, not me), is WHY are these people still in their positions???

“Bad managers” is a real problem in today’s workforce. Having a bad manager put me in instacare thinking I was having a heart attack (it was just a pre-ulcer, which the stress of two degrees, having a family, and other stuff never did to me. But this bad manager had a serious impact on my physical health). Having a bad manager will have an impact on your grumpiness, your relationship with loved ones and neighbors, your self-esteem, etc.

Why, oh why, do bad managers get to thrive?

It’s like the good employees get friendzoned (I’m sure their is a better word for this) while the bad manager gets the big prize.

What does this mean for our career management?