12 Traits of Terrible Engineering Managers

Does your boss display any of these traits?

You walk into the workplace with your new job as an engineer. It’s pretty overwhelming since everything is new – the environment is new, the faces are new, and most importantly, the boss is new.

Because your boss has a lot to do with your workload and performance as an engineer employee, you have to check whether or not he is one of those managers who make your work hell everyday. The early you see signs of a terrible engineering manager in your boss, the better – because that way you could adjust appropriately or even leave if the toxicity level is too high.

So what are the traits of a terrible manager? Here are 12, if you ask a few if the Young Entrepreneur Council. This also applies to engineering bosses.

Lack of transparency

Mitch Gordon of Go Overseas says, “Staff can tell when you’re not being completely honest with them. There’s rarely a reason not to be entirely transparent with your team, especially at a young, growing company. Your team will appreciate understanding exactly where the company stands. This will help everyone come together as a team, focused on the problems that need solving for the long-term benefit of the company. Lack of transparency can result in a lack of trust.”

Not listening

If you ask Jason Grill from JGrill Media, he would say that Listening to all employees as often as possible is so important to building a loyal and faithful team. “Everyone needs to be part of the process and bigger picture. Interacting and listening to your team is something that is too often forgotten by CEOs, with the hustle and bustle of job and travel schedules. It shouldn’t be,” he adds.

Dismissing ideas other than their own

“I didn’t realize how toxic this behavior was until it was pointed out to me,” says Dash’s Jeff McGregor. “Your employees should never feel like they’re pitching you in a way that makes you (as the CEO) think you’re spinning the gold. Understanding a good idea, helping to develop it and providing strong praise and credit where due is incredibly important,” he shares.

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Stock photo

Valuing experience over potential

Chris Cancialosi from GothamCulture believes that CEOs should be careful not to value experience over potential. According to his own knowledge, some of their best employees haven’t been the most experienced. “What they do have is something that’s impossible to train or develop—it’s a fire in their bellies to deliver world-class products to our clients. You can’t teach that,” he says.


“The best leaders are ones who accept blame when things go wrong and give credit to their team when things go right,” Nick Friedman of College Hunks Hauling Junk said. “In order to be a true visionary leader, you need to let go of your ego and focus on your people because without them you would be nowhere.”

Working 24/7

Susan LaMotte of Exaqueo had asked a fellow entrepreneur about his weekend plans a long time ago. His answer was, “I work all weekend. But LaMotte thinks this is a bad habit. “I understand the ownership and passion that comes with running a business, but you have to set the example for your team, have other interests and learn how to take a break. Otherwise everyone will assume they have to work that much and burnout of the entire team is inevitable,” she says.

Lack of empathy

Leaders should have an understanding what the problems of their team members face, and do something about it so the team could do the best job possible. That’s what Adam Root Hiplogiq thinks about a terrible boss.

Forgetting about leadership development

“Educating and creating a growth plan for your employees is one of the things that should never be ignored but often slips through the cracks,” Sujan Patel of When I Work believes. “Having a growth and education path not only increases employee retention but makes for a smarter and hungrier team. If you think about it in reverse, can you afford for your team not to learn or grow? Imagine if your marketing team was doing the same things they are now in four or five years.”

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Poor communication of strategy

“CEOs tend to map out ideas in our heads but don’t share the process,” says Benish Shah of Before the Label. “Then, when the team starts making suggestions that you’ve already eliminated through thoughtful internal deliberation, they get angry. But no one knows you’ve already done that—so both sides get frustrated. My co-founder would tell me this all the time, so I started writing ideas and plans out to make sure my process and conclusion are easy to understand.”


Josh Weiss of Bluegala believes that it’s crucial as a CEO to be open-minded and listen to feedback and ideas from others. “Being closed-minded and unwilling to change your perspective will cause issues with both your employees and the success of your business,” he adds.


ZinePak’s Kim Kaupe says, “I have often been blamed for sounding like a broken record but it is a record that my staff, clients and vendors know and can count on. Too often I see CEOs who are inconsistent and change their minds, which leads to confusion and mixed signals among everyone around them. Sticking to your guns and accepting the fate (even if it’s bad!) will lead to opportunities to continue learning while building trust in others.”

Being too slow to adapt

“Successful startups grow rapidly,” says Neil Thanedar, LabDoor. “CEOs who fail to keep up risk being clueless, close-minded and arrogant. A lack of knowledge leads to indecision and fear and can cause employees to quickly lose trust in their leader,” he adds.

Source: Success

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12 Traits of Terrible Engineering Managers

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