How bad managers in the workplace are decimating Australian businesses

Workplaces are full of bad managers due to the labour shortage impacting businesses across Australia – and they are having a disastrous effect on workplaces, productivity and morale. Want to know why people don’t want to come back to the office, because workplaces are full of bad managers. For the last 12 to 18 months especially, businesses have been severely impacted by the labour shortage affecting economies all over the world including Australia.

During the pandemic, we lost a lot of people from Australia’s workforce. Many people with significant management and industry experience retired. Others quit their job and moved away from the city to enjoy a more stress-free life living in regional and coastal areas working for themselves or in different roles involving less hours and less responsibility.

Also, many people from overseas returned to their home country. While people are slowly starting to return to Australia, we are still experiencing a significant shortfall in skilled labour.

How to tell a bad manager in the workplace

All of this has led to a shortfall in managers. Managers wore the brunt of the pandemic and many burned out and left. Organisations still need managers and so a lot of people have been promoted into managerial roles who are not managerial material. Businesses have become desperate and placed people into management roles that they just simply should not be in.

Basically, many workplaces across the country are full of bad managers and we all know what this means. Bad managers cause all sorts of problems in the workplace, including;

Lack of leadership

Bad managers often lack leadership capabilities and tend to manage through domination and fear, rather than through cooperation and encouragement. They don’t lead by example. Managers like these tend to suppress ideas, positivity and innovation, leading to a workplace that is toxic, negative and blame oriented. Productivity usually sinks and turnover increases.

No coaching or mentoring

Bad managers fail to coach and mentor their staff resulting in an under-motivated team and under-utilised skills. Simply put, they don’t know how. Many bad managers are also insecure about their role and don’t want to expose themselves by showing how underequipped they are. Coaching and mentoring is an important element of good managerial behaviour.

Good managers understand the value of uplifting and supporting people and encourage learning and development while on the job through guidance and nurturing.


Many bad managers also tend to be micromanagers. Micromanagement may be an effective approach sometimes, but if it is misused, it can stifle and corrupt innovation and productivity.

For people to excel at work, they should have the freedom to plan and execute on their own, based on the objectives set by their manager. Micromanaging not only limits an employee’s ability, but also causes the boss to stretch themselves too thin and not manage the team well. Micromanagement leads to distrust and only serves to slow a business down long term.

Lack of empathy and understanding

People enjoy working in an environment when they are working for a manager they feel understands them, listens to them and directs them accordingly. There are always going to be issues to deal with, and one of the most important things a manager can do is empathise with their employees. If a frustrated client takes out their anger on a team member, good managers support them and work through solutions to avoid the issue happening again.

If a team member makes a mistake, a good manager takes the time to understand where things went wrong. Having empathy shows employees their manager cares and is invested in their future. Not having this quality ensures high employee turnover and low productivity.

Make mistakes

Aside from creating awful work environments for their staff and mistreating people in the workplace, bad managers also make lots of mistakes which can be costly to the business.

They can make decisions which are not in the interests of the business which can seriously impact revenue and the viability of the business. They also do things which place the business at risk of being pursued legally as well. This can happen when managers are out of their depth, don’t have the experience or expertise, or don’t fully understand the business.

Psychologically unsafe work environments

Psychological safety means creating a culture where people feel safe to raise ideas, ask questions and provide feedback without fear of being punished or attacked. Bad managers cultivate psychologically unsafe work environments because they don’t have the skills, experience, confidence or trust of the workplace to cultivate a safe workspace.

Until businesses either provide their managers with the necessary training and support to improve their managerial skills or make more effort to employ managers who are the right organisational fit, people will resist coming back to work or find somewhere else to work.

Christina Foxwell is the founder and CEO of Ignite Purpose, a human-centred performance improvement, coaching, training and consulting practice. Foxwell is the author of Glass Angel, a book which not only explores her difficult upbringing, it also provides readers with insight into how she turned her life around through employing the right mindset.

Christina Foxwell, Founder and CEO of Ignite Purpose
Christina Foxwell, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ignite Purpose