“Build a bonfire, Build a Bonfire, put the Manager on the top”

Last year I was out with a group of friends for bonfire night. I suddenly realised the guy on the bonfire looked like one of my past Managers, who’d made my life hell. That started the stories flowing of the worst experiences we’d had with Managers.

Many years ago, I was going through a divorce and I was really struggling. I had a Manager who always said: “You should leave your personal life at home.” Can you imagine how hard that was to hear? Yes, maybe I should have left my personal life at home, but I was only human and I just needed an empathetic ear and a little bit of understanding for a short period. I think generally the workplace has now evolved with bigger businesses offering employee support assistance and Managers being more understanding. If you are a small employer then there are a lot of support organisations you can refer employees to, which are usually free. For more detail register here for the free help card

Another story, several of us remembered, was a Manager who would put a sign up stating “Do not disturb” for what seemed like most of the day. That made her seem very unapproachable and as a result, we wouldn’t say if we had problems or there was something they needed to know. The Manager missed out on a lot of valuable information while the staff felt ignored and unsupported.

One person recalled the story of a Manager who belittled them in front of others and frequently shouted at the person in the middle of the workplace. They remembered the sense of helplessness they felt and how they felt powerless to stop it. We all exclaimed this was bullying and the friend agreed in hindsight. They’d left in the end because it was making them ill.

Another friend discussed how some of the Managers in her workplace spoke very sharply to employees and were very dismissive of most people. We all said how wearing that could be and how it can destroy your confidence. The person highlighted the knock-on effect to the business’s culture as the other Managers were tending to take the same tone and consequently the teams weren’t performing well as they felt dismissed and undervalued.

Clearly what came out of this conversation, was that Managers by their behaviours and attitude could inflict a lot of damage to their employees and business.

We also remembered the Managers who had shown great compassion and empathy in times of need. One Manager trusted staff to just get on with the job, and would just check in occasionally that all was fine. The same Manager had the ability to bring fun into the workplace through the activities she conjured up.

Another Manager who would always make time for 1-2-1s when you were struggling and just needed some support. Those who coached with patience and good humour. All those were remembered with real affection.

As a result of the conversation, we highlighted key attributes that Managers needed.
• Compassion
• Listening
• Supportive
• Authentic
• Sense of Fun
• Nurturing
• Builds confidence
• Humility
• Vulnerability
• Empowering people
• Integrity

It’s clear that people always remember the Managers who stood out for either good or bad reasons. These Managers have the ability to create engagement and motivate by their attitudes and often set the standards for you as a person, particularly if you become a Manager or Leader.

Try and remember the best attributes from Managers you had and put these into action when managing employees.

Take care


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