Sadly, bad management is rampant across all industries, and certainly marketing departments aren't immune to it. At Find My Marketer, we've created a list of 5 bad marketing manager archetypes to avoid:
- The Nitpicker: This individual looks at everything, small and large – and typically the feedback they give is critical. People around them can't do anything right, and everything has to be perfect. Attention to detail is important in marketing, but when it gets to the point of obsessing about which synonym to use – (or is it utilize!) – you know you're in for a long, draining experience as an employee working for him or her. How to tell: You’ll know when you work for one. Nitpickers often exhibit two qualities: an inflated self-image / sense of self-importance and a lack of emotional awareness. Typically, they couch feedback in a way that makes them seem intelligent and you seem not as worthy. During the interview ask questions about how others would describe his or her supervisory style. If they respond with a nervous laugh, you might want to look elsewhere.
- The Visionary: Similarly, having a boss whose head is in the clouds is also not ideal. It may seem great at first in that they don't pay attention to the operational details, so he or she won't actually know what you do during the day. The problem with “visionaries” is that in order for their vision to succeed, they probably should have an understanding of the things that have to happen to make that vision a reality. If they don’t, they will, more often than not, fail. That individual is likely to spend an inordinate amount of time selling a particular view to management but is probably costing the department money because they don’t understand operations. And he or she is probably not helping your career. That's because part of a boss’ job is to give you the feedback you need to get better at what you do. In general, it’s important to find that right balance – the boss that focuses on high-level strategy and understands the importance (not to the point of nitpicking) on operational details. How to tell: Does the individual get their hands dirty when it comes to understanding operational details? Or, does he or she focus from a high-level only? Similar to nitpickers, visionaries have an inflated sense of self. If you hear too many responses with “I” or “me” then it is perhaps time to run.
- The Racist / Sexist: In the modern workplace, there are plenty of examples where blatant sexism or racism continues to be practiced. And if you’re in one of those situations (bosses that disparage, degrade or create an outright hostile environment because of race or sex), it’s certainly time to leave regardless of the pay. That said, the majority of cases involve the more subtle types of racist and sexist marketing bosses. How to tell: On race, examples might include bosses who deny promotions to people of a different race. Maybe they make insensitive or stereotypical racial remarks during a meeting. Or maybe they deny that general discrimination exists. Sexist behavior might involve casting broad stereotypes that might not even involve work: “Women don’t understand sports.” “Men never ask questions.” Similar to racists, sexists often deny promotions to those of a different sex, or noticeably treat employees differently based on whether they are a man or a woman. They may also not make an effort to put in diverse representation in advertising or content. Some of these may not be the most offensive things (and it’s important not to overreact and understand intent), but over time, if you feel like it’s hurting your career, it’s time to move on. What’s hard is that it’s not something you’ll likely pick up on this in an interview unless it’s obvious.
- The Do-Nothing: Many of us have had those marketing bosses that simply coast. They don’t really do a whole lot it seems: they attend meetings, surf the internet, and then call it a day. We love the ones that send us something about a story they read about a marketing initiative in email but then do nothing to help follow up on it. (So, we guess it wasn’t very important was it? Otherwise, why send it and waste everyone’s time?) How to tell: These bosses generally won’t have any idea what you do during the day. Which, as mentioned above, isn’t ideal because you should seek feedback to help you grow. Also, they will probably have little idea about strategy or guidance in terms of your approach to work. During the interview, one good question is to ask how often a boss checks in with his or her employees? If the answer causes them to pause or a general “I try to but it’s hard sometimes” then the boss might not be for you.
- The Buzz-Killer / Risk-Avoider: We lump these two qualities together because they often go hand in hand. Many of these marketing bosses only give you reasons why something “can’t” be done rather than think of ways of how something “can” be accomplished. Indeed, they are frequently bereft of new ideas and will likely avoid taking on anything new or anything risky to keep from “rocking the boat.” Why is this bad? Because as a marketing professional, it’s important for your department to take risks and try new things – so all of you can learn from it and grow. It’s also a great way to improve the marketing you do because you end up learning more about your customers and their needs and desires. How to tell: These bosses are more often concerned with covering their asses than they are with innovating. During the interview, one good question is to ask how does the boss view the changes or trends in the industry he or she falls in? If the answers are something like: “The industry hasn’t changed much” or “we’ve always done it this way” or “we don’t vary this that much” then you might pause about the direction the marketing team is moving in.
Which marketing manager types have you encountered? Drop us a line to tell us your favorite manager types at firstname.lastname@example.org, or share this on social with your thoughts.
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