We all have our fair share of stories concerning managers that drove you crazy or made you dread Monday Mornings!

But, did you ever stop to think, what one common denominator it was that drove people the most crazy?

The one shared trait that makes a bad manager?

Here it is…

This is What Makes a Bad Manager


Yep, unpredictability was identified in a new study, published in the Academy of Management Journal, as being the worst trait amongst managers. It was far more detrimental to an employee’s health and wellbeing than consistent unfairness, it discovered.

When you think about it, it makes sense. As people we tend to have a fear of the unknown – of the anticipation of what might happen. Once we know for certain the outcome of something, the anxiety and dread dissipates to a huge degree.

Put this in the context of the office and you can see way unpredictability is the worst trait of bad managers. Imagine you made a mistake the cost a client. If you worked for a predictable manager, you might know that you were going to get a severe telling off in their office and a warning. That’s not ideal, but you know what’s coming…

Now, take the same scenario with a manager that’s unpredictable. Along with feeling bad about the mistake you’ve made you’ll have a million and one ‘what-if’ scenario’s playing in your head. Am I going to be fired? Am I going to get shouted at in front of everyone? What’s going to happen?

Taking the element of surprise away from a situation, significantly reduces the amount of anxiety and worry someone faces.

The Study

In this particular study, 100 employees across various industries were asked to fill out daily surveys over a number of weeks, focussing on their perceptions of how fair their managers were.

The study showed that employees that marked their managers as being fair some of the time, and unfair at others, were more stressed, emotionally exhausted and less satisfied than the participants of the study who indicated that their managers consistently treated them unfairly.

In another recent study conducted by Google, they found that the most important trait of a successful leader was predictability. This seems to go hand and hand with the study conducted by the Academy of Management Journal.

Have a think of your past bosses; Were you most unhappiest when faced with an unpredictable manager? Or one that was generally unfair all of the time? We hope it’s a given that you were happy if a manager was fair all of the time, but realistically, every leader has to make unpopular decisions. The key to being a great leader is consistency, keeping a level temperament and treating employees equally.

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