Bill Lumbergh from the movie "Office Space". Perhaps the greatest depiction of a typical manager to ever hit the movie screens.

You wake up on Sunday morning and all you can think about is not wanting to go to work on Monday.  You feel sick when you drive to work on Monday morning.  You sometimes wonder what it would feel like to tell your manager to f-off and walk out of the office.  If this describes you, it’s more than likely that you have a horrible boss.

There are hundreds of articles available on the internet that attempt to teach you how to deal with bad managers.  This is not the aim of this article.  The only true way to deal with bad managers is to get them fired or quit your job.  Before you do that, here are the seven habits of a typical bad manager:

1. Patrolling the cube farm like you’re the vacation police. 
At some point in every horrible manager’s career, they lose focus on what actually matters to the business.  For some this happens immediately.  For others, this happens because of pressure from their own manager who also happens to be completely inept.  Tracking sick days and vacation days like a hawk is just one example of managers lacking a true understanding of their value to the organization.  They’ll go to extraordinary lengths to ensure vacation and sick days are tracked appropriately, often instituting ridiculous and insulting rules such a “Days off x 10” policy that requires an employee to give one month notification for a two day vacation. 

Result: The four days they saved the company in hypothetical lost productivity had a $1280 price tag.  Unfortunately, the manager used $24,000 of their own time to save those four days.

2. Promising Pangaea and delivering Delaware. 
Managers never ruin a chance to please their own supervisors.  When push comes to shove, the ineffective manager always gets shoved.  Because of this, they never inform anyone that they cannot fulfill the massive number of requests coming in from the customer.  Instead, they agree to everything and inform their team that they will be working unpaid overtime to ensure its success. 

Result: In the end, nobody received what they wanted and the manager is despised by everyone.

3. Appearance takes precedence over results. 
This is not only true of the actual work they perform, but also true of their own physical appearance.  Managers love to beat the dress code.  If an office has a casual dress code, managers dress business casual.  If an office is business casual, the manager dresses professional.  If everyone else is dressing professional, the bad managers are finally exposed for who they really are — a worthless member of the corporation.

Result: They are promoted for dressing nice because their manager was promoted for dressing nice.  And the cycle continues on.

4. Spending their entire day in Microsoft Project like a child in a sandbox. 
The worst thing that ever happened to project management is Microsoft Project.  While it may have some benefits, many managers spend nearly their entire day ‘moving things around’ in Microsoft Project.  What once was considered a job that required actual business skills is now a job requiring the entry of fake dates into a piece of software, and then moving those dates when they are missed.

Result: Every member of the project or department ignores the manager because everything they do and say is meaningless.

5. Becoming the office minuteman (or minute-woman). 
The term “key action items” was invented by managers who do nothing but take notes during a meeting.  They have no idea what’s going on in a meeting.  Their presence exists solely to record the events of the meeting, thus making them the most expensive court reporter in the state.  The only time they speak up is to make sure they’ve captured the “key action items” for each person in the meeting.  Following the meeting, the minutes they send to each attendee barely make sense, making it very apparent that they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing.

Result: The manager makes everything more confusing and no one knows what they are actually supposed to do.

6. Positioning yourself to be sure that failure is blamed on others.
One of the most important aspects to any successful manager is the ability to place blame on others.  It’s inevitable that you will fail more than you will succeed.  However, managers who make it in the business world are always focused on what truly matters — their own arse.  It isn’t important that things get done.  It’s important that you aren’t blamed when nothing gets done.

Result: Same result as #7 below.

7. Jumping ship.
Similar to the above, jumping ship is the more drastic version of shifting blame on to others.  If there is one thing that every over-promoted manager has in common, it’s the uncanny ability to jump ship before the ship sinks.  Grand ideas that cause massive sweeping changes to projects and departments are surprisingly common within the corporate world.  The majority of these grand ideas result in catastrophic failure — but the managers who escape before the storm are applauded for their wonderful ideas and fantastic execution.  Three months later, the employees still on the project are left cleaning up their mess and are demoted for their poor work ethic and lack of innovation.

Result:  The manager is continually promoted until they reach a C-Level executive position at which point they look back at the forest fire they created and then jump ship to a new company and start over again, but this time at the executive level.  Rinse and repeat.

Source: Minneapolis Life in the Cubicle Examiner: The seven habits of a typical bad manager
Author: Dudley B. Dawson