The Hands-Off Manager:
The Characteristics: The Hands-Off Manager basically ignores his/her employees. He/she does his/her thing, and the employees do theirs. When an employee goes to such a manager for advice or guidance, that employee may hear bromides or clichés, but won’t hear anything meaningful; his/her employees are basically on their own. The Hands-Off Manager won’t stop employees from trying things (which can be a good thing, as employees need to stretch and try new things), but won’t help them or prevent them from making known mistakes. They basically treats their employees as “latchkey kids”. The employees really have no leader or manager, no one to run interference when appropriate, and no one to back them up or support them when questions arise. For the Hands-Off Manager’s employees, it’s learn as you go, and support yourselves. This is not a healthy environment.
The Employee Approach: Try meeting one-on-one with your Hands-Off Manager to see if you can explain your concerns and need for positive guidance, leadership, and management. You may be able to turn things around. Push to get him/her involved in the activities of the group and to actively support the group’s efforts. If this fails, seek out other managers who can provide guidance and/or convince the Hands-Off Manager to get more involved. Let others know, delicately, that you’re getting no guidance or management. If all else fails, try to transfer to a manager who cares. It’s your career!
The Wheeler-Dealer Manager:
The Employee Approach: You must determine whether you believe your Wheeler-Dealer Manager is a visionary or a user. If their ideas are good and in line with corporate tactics and/or strategies, and if your and others' efforts are appreciated and rewarded, then it may be in your best interest to follow this manager to, hopefully, greater glory. If you believe them to be a user, then it probably makes sense to distance yourself to the degree possible. You should talk to peers of the Wheeler-Dealer Manager and let them know what’s going on and seek their advice. If you get nowhere, it may be time to look for a position elsewhere in the organization.
The Credit Taker/Thief Manager:
The Employee Approach: If possible, you should try to talk to your Credit Taker/Thief Manager and express your concerns. If this goes nowhere, you should confront him/her and let him/her know you find this behavior unacceptable. You should talk to peers of the Credit Taker/Thief Manager and get their guidance. If you still get nowhere, you should go over this manager's head and report what’s going on; you have little to lose if you’re being used anyway. It may be necessary for you to leave this group, or even the company, but you should recognize that you’re never going to advance with a Credit Taker/Thief Manager taking credit for all of your contributions (see Know When To Fold 'em!, and When It's Time 'To Walk Away', Don't Turn Back!).
The A$$hole Manager:
The Employee Approach: First, try to talk directly to the A$$hole Manager and let him/her know that you don’t like and won’t accept asshole treatment. If he/she backs off, then that’s good for everyone. If he/she doesn’t back off and becomes even more of an asshole, talk with some of his/her peers and get their guidance, or go over his/her head. If none of this gets you anywhere, try to get out from under the A$$hole Manager. Life is too short!
These are just four more of many Mis-Manager personality types that you will come across in knowledge worker-based (and other) organizations. The key is recognizing the various personality types as early as possible, and work to address the problems or opportunities that they may bring. Employees must recognize that Mis-Managers hold positions of direct authority over them, and so must approach them carefully. They must walk a fine line and find what works best for them. Their work environment, and future, may depend upon it.
[Note: Please let me know if there are Mis-Manager personality types you’d like spotlighted. I’ll do my best to accommodate you.]