The Struggle is Real: Breaking Bad Management Habits

We’ve all been there – that manager who calls you at 8PM to thoroughly explain a task you’ll be working on…tomorrow. Or the one who agrees with every decision in the moment only to berate you later about it. Bad management habits run amok in offices everywhere. 

Even the most well-intentioned managers can fall into counterproductive patterns. But being an effective leader means recognising those habits and putting in the work to break them. After all, employees don’t leave jobs, they leave bad managers.

So let’s take a hard look at some of the worst management behaviour out there, and more importantly, how to fix it:

Bad Habit #1: Micromanaging

While some managers think this shows their dedication, it really just disempowers employees and kills motivation. Break it by learning to trust your team, provide clear instructions upfront, then get out of the way and let them work.

Bad Habit #2: Avoiding Difficult Conversations  

“I’ll give them another chance to improve on their own”… famous last words. Ducking confrontation might avoid awkwardness now, but issues inevitably worsen over time. Rip off the band-aid – have those tough discussions early and often. Frame it as an opportunity to improve, not criticise. You’ll both grow from it.

Bad Habit #3: Disorganisation and Missed Deadlines

It’s the professional equivalent of the student waiting until the last minute to start that big term paper. Missed deadlines, scrambling, and excessive multi-tasking become the norm. Stop the insanity and get organised with tools like calendars, to-do lists, and blocking out periods for focused work. Model the behaviour you want to see.

Bad Habit #4: Favoritism  

Having special treatment for that teacher’s pet employee on the team? It’s obvious, it breeds resentment, and it’s just plain unethical. You’re not in high school anymore. Break this by setting consistent expectations for everyone and recognising accomplishments objectively. Hold everyone to the same high standards – no more sucking up.

Bad Habit #5: Failing to Appreciate Employees

Cue the former employees airing their grievances: “I never got any recognition!” “My work went unnoticed!” A simple “thank you” goes a long way. Dole out well-deserved praise publicly and give kudos for hard work and innovative ideas. They’ll be motivated to keep it up.

Bad Habit #6: Ineffective Delegation

Delegating allows you to multiply your team’s efforts and leverage their diverse skills. Break this habit by taking the time upfront to train employees on new tasks, provide needed resources, and establish clear roles. They’ll take ownership and you’ll free up bandwidth. It’s a win-win.

Bad Habit #7: Decision Paralysis  

Gather input, consider options, re-gather input, reconsider…and next thing you know, six months have flown by without a decision being made. At some point, you have to get off the fence and make the best decision you can with the current information. Practice being decisive while still weighing pros and cons.

Bad Habit #8: Poor Listening  

We’ve all zoned out during meetings only to be caught saying “Sorry, can you repeat that?” Guilty as charged. But truly listening – not just waiting to respond – is crucial for understanding employee perspectives and needs. Break this habit by staying present, asking questions, and rephrasing what you heard to confirm.

Bad Habit #9: Setting Unrealistic Expectations

“I need you to solve world hunger by Friday.” Okay, maybe that’s extreme, but unrealistic deadlines and goals undermine trust while setting employees up to fail. Get better about estimating workloads and provide ample time and support. Under-promise and over-deliver.

Bad Habit #10: Panicked Leadership

Staying unflappable in the face of a crisis is one of the toughest challenges for managers. But if you get frazzled, it trickles down to the entire team. Break this habit by having procedures in place, keeping communication clear during stressful periods, and actively mitigating panic with calm leaders.

We all have bad workplace habits to break. The key is developing self-awareness to recognise when we slip up, and consciously adjusting our behaviour. Sure, it takes effort, but being a great leader is worth it. Time to roll up those sleeves and get working on ourselves!