I pause and smile every time I hear someone say, “I love my manager!” It is refreshing to hear that there are people out there who connect with their managers in ways that inspire, grow and motivate them. But that is not the case for a lot of people. If I had $10 for every time I heard “I hate my manager” (and this is the PG version of what they say), I’d be able to afford a brownstone in Brooklyn.
Because there is a range of different personality types, communication, and work styles, we never know what to expect from a potential manager until we’re 6 months into the job. However, in talking to tons of people about their work lives over the years (and assessing my own), I’ve determined that most managers fall into one of the 7 categories below.
This type of manager is intimidating, tough (on purpose), creates a culture of fear, want to be revered, isn’t very welcoming, obsessed with seniority and will remind you that they are in charge. They create somewhat of a toxic culture and encourage people to leave the organization if they don’t like it. Turnover is often high under their leadership.
The Franager (Friend + Manager):
This type of manager is keen on hiring people who they can befriend. Their hiring decisions are widely based on whether a candidate’s personality and interests are similar to theirs. They feel that personally relating to the people on their team is crucial to building a cohesive work culture and getting things done. They often hang with their direct reports outside of work (sometimes even travel together). The lines between personal and professional are often blurred. The Franager has trouble compartmentalizing the relationship and finds giving objective feedback a challenge. From an optics perspective, these types of relationships are dangerous as they send the wrong message of how to get ahead.
This type of manager is ideal for most people. As the name suggests, The Teacher takes time to develop, mentor and groom their employees. Before their new hires start they’ve already crafted a development plan, knows exactly what they want/need this person to know in the first 30, 60 and 90 days. They have an open door policy and are committed to building employee morale in order to get the best out of their employees. They are compassionate, nurturing, thoughtful and care about their employees’ whole life, not just the work they do for the company. The Teacher type is fair, objective and transparent and requires the same from their staff. The downside about this type of manager is that leadership often feels that these individuals aren’t assertive or tough enough.
This type of manager is smart, bright and well respected throughout the organization. They have built a great reputation for themselves and are entrusted by senior-level executives within the organization to lead and affect change. Sounds great, right? Not exactly. This type of manager is often put in charge of key business areas without any knowledge or experience. Leadership believes that these individuals are smart and trust them to learn and lead concurrently. Due to their lack of experience, they aren’t able to develop or grow their employees. Instead, they rely heavily on their staff to teach them the ropes while they simply lead and manage. Employees under this type of manager often feel disenchanted because they have nothing to learn. Because of this, they often move internally into different roles or leave the organization altogether.
This is probably one of the more complex manager types as they are good at what they do, but constantly feel threatened by the intelligence and capabilities of their direct reports. They want to hire smart people but fear that they might eventually take their job. That said, they keep a fair distance between themselves and their employees. Information is shared on an as-needed basis, they keep the sexy projects and give their direct reports the less savory ones and often find fault with the work their employees produce (think micromanager). They are good at giving constructive feedback, but little positive reinforcement. Employees under this manager type are often in the dark about where they stand. The Defender’s motto is “It took me a long time to get to where I am. And it should take others just as long.” Needless to say, promotions are slow to happen under this leadership.
The Great Pretender:
You guessed right – this type of manager pretends to know everything, but knows very little about how to do their job. Their motto is “fake it until you make it” and they truly believe in this concept. They schmooze their way to the top by building relationships with senior level executives (morning coffees, lunches, dinner, drinks – you name it!). They are excellent delegators and rely on their direct reports to make them look good. They hire great people but lack the ability to develop them. They’re insecure and are on edge at times as they try to maintain the perception they’ve built. These managers are good “people managers,” but when it comes to the actual work, they fail.
This type of manager is sharp, super smart, subject matter expert, assertive, have high expectations, is well regarded by leadership and generally has a tough exterior. This individual has earned their stripes and is often called a rock star. They can be intimidating, but it’s not intentional – they care about their professional brand and have a game-changer mentality. As long as the work gets done, they are happy. Employees under this type of manager will learn from them by simply watching how they work a room, how they show up in meetings and how they get stuff done with no complaining. The downside about this type of manager is that they are hypercritical and expect perfection, which can be stressful.
Knowing that these manager types exist is one thing, but learning how to manage and build relationships with them is another. The first step is understanding their expectations then figuring out how to exceed them. You can’t quit every job just because you don’t agree with your manager’s style – you must learn to adapt.
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