Bad managers: last stop resignation?

by Nicole Klink / 18 November 2021

In a coaching session a client now looking for professional reorientation stated that quitting her last job had been overwhelmingly motivated by (and I quote) consistently poor communication on part of her lead. Unfortunately, having heard similar comments in coaching and from friends before, I was not surprised to hear this. In fact, the impact of the persona of lead or manager, or in small companies of the CEO, cannot be underestimated when it comes to looking at reasons for employees quitting their jobs.

Inadequate targets or even the absence of those as well as mixed messages regarding the goals or KPI to be achieved, untransparent and unappreciative communication, or passing down pressure, and insane workloads are just some of the reasons for declining motivation, increasing stress and even burnout, a declining identification with the tasks on the one hand and with the employer as a whole on the other. The result is often enough resignation.

What can usually be considered a most difficult step for employees, but still one that can offer new opportunities, means a loss of expert skills for the company. The problem has long been recognised. For years and years the issue of how leads and managers can be better prepared for their role was discussed in every business management magazine around the globe. In fact, many managers enjoy the benefits being put into a leadership position primarily based on their many years of experience in a field and the professional expertise that come with it. The step to becoming a manager often seems the logical consequence because there is a need to move up the career ladder. By the way: unfortunately, the expert career path is still given too little consideration in career planning in companies and enterprises.

Yet many employers still shy away from implementing specific prep programmes because of the financial and time resources needed for it. Clearly more foresight is needed at the management level to make sustainable personnel decisions in the future.


But what can employees, what can you do if you are affected by bad leadership?

Well, the first option is as simple as it is obvious: accept and hang in there. Depending on the specific challenges you are confronted with, a useful accompanying measure may be to find relief by discreetly discussing the matter with colleagues. It is not uncommon for us to think that it might be our own fault. Find out if others share your experiences and benefit from other ways of dealing with the same problems. Talking to others may help develop strategies, which can have a de-escalating effect.

However, if you want to make a real change in the situation because you are not prepared to just put up with it, then you have to act. This is the second option. Talk to your manager. Communicate that and also where exactly you see imbalances. Describe your perceptions and what they trigger in you. Tell them what specific changes you would like to see in the way you work together. Ideally, make suggestions as to how these changes can be achieved. Also describe to your manager what can be achieved by this?

As a third option resignation should be considered at the latest when other options do not have the desired effects and/or your psychological stress limit has almost been reached. But don't wait too long for real action if you feel you are getting ever more stressed out. Instead, start early to answer for yourself which changes you would like to see in concrete terms. Which of these changes can you actually make happen in a new position? Which aspects that could lead to your resignation are indeed company- or management-specific? Which ones have the potential to catch up with you sooner or later in any other position because they may be more rooted in your own personality?

If possible, do not resign into unemployment, but instead prepare well for leaving your current employer. Plan the steps to get there, ask yourself where you want to go, what financial and social aspects need to be considered and prepare for application processes.

In case you feel support is needed with this, you might wish to consider a coaching.