Friday, September 23, 2011

Don’t Be “That Guy” as a Manager

I’m noticing a lot of references to “that guy” these days. Maybe because I work at a college campus? There’s no shortage of that guy references, including references to all kinds of things you shouldn’t do in bars, on college campuses, in dating, in social media, in fantasy football, and on and on.

That guy is usually described as basically full on himself, socially clueless, arrogant, a jerk, completely lacking self-awareness, and gets drunk a lot. That guy references always include a list of specific examples of behaviors, in an effort to hopefully educate that guy readers (because there are so damn many of them).

The behaviors are usually not blatantly obvious - the idea is to point out common behaviors that not everyone is aware are obnoxious.

Although men tend to dominate the that guy market, “that girl” references are popping up as well. Let’s hear it for equal opportunity.

Google “don’t be that guy” or “don’t be that girl”, and see for yourself.

What about that guy managers?

It’s easy to spot the obvious that guy managers when it’s someone else – it’s the Michael Scotts, the Pointy Haired Bosses from Dilbert, and the stars of the recent movie “Horrible Bosses”. However, given our general lack of behavioral self-awareness, it’s a lot harder to see it in ourselves. But have no fear – take the following Great Leadership “Are you that guy manager” quiz to find out if you have any of the tell-tale signs:

1. Do you often show up late to your own team meetings or one-on-ones, and then offer a half-hearted “sorry, but it’s been a crazy day”?

2. Do you think you’re funnier than any of your employees because your jokes always get the most laughs? If you answer yes to this one, then you’ll probably also answer yes to…..

3. Do you think your ideas are always the best ones because your employees always agree to them and never question them?

4. Do you complain about members of your team in front of other members of your team?

5. Do you frequently complain about your manager, “the company”, your peers, your suppliers, or your customers?

6. Do you make suggestive comments, swear, tell crude jokes, or frequently pick on your employees?

7. Do requests for information sit in your inbox for days, and then, when it’s close to the due date, you ask one of your employees to respond with minimal notice?

8. Do you practice “management by walking around” at 4:45pm when you’re employees are getting ready to go home, or during their peak workload hours?

9. In your one on ones or at meetings, do you find yourself doing most of the talking?

10. Do you have trouble remembering little details about your employee’s personal lives? Like they names of their children? If they have children? Or your employee’s own names?

If you answered “yes” to five or more of these questions, then you are definitely “that guy”. There may be help for you, but you first need to admit there’s a problem.

If you only answered “yes” to a few of these, then you’re probably just slightly flawed, just as we all are. With a little self-awareness, desire and coaching, any of these little annoying behaviors can easily be fixed.

How about you? What “that guy” manager behaviors would you add to the list?


Tamara Vann said...

Fantastic piece! No one wants to be that guy and no company needs that guy! Good leaders learn how to create a sense of teamwork and are enthusiastic about their posts. This video offers some great tips for creating an alignment of efforts that really works:

Integro said...

It's such a shame that there are still places for 'that guy' to behave in a manner that deflates even the most passionate and inspired employees.

Anna Smith said...

Dan (was that your name?) - did you say the cutoff is only five or more?! I'm definitely that gal...

Dan McCarthy said...


As long as there are bosses, there will always be that guy.

"Only" five or more? Yikes.

Mike said...

One indicator of a good manager is the willingness to accept new ideas. Where a manager thinks their "ideas are always the best ones" they close off initiative and support. Employees know if your ask for ideas and are just going through the motions. Get their ideas first, discuss, then share your ideas, and discuss,

Jim said...

Great article. There are more than enough of That Guy and That Girl out there. But it shouldn't be surprising. How many of us, upon being promoted, actually get the training we need to not be that guy? I know when I got my first management promotion it was because I was great at my job, not because I had any talent for helping others be great at theirs. So I was definitely "that guy" for lack of knowing any better.

DJ Giles said...

Lest we forget the flipside to number 7, the, "'I need this RIGHT NOW'...and then it sits in HIS inbox for days guy" THAT guy exists.

Dan McCarthy said...

Mike -
Great point, thanks!

Jim -
I agree, most of the items on my list are often just a lack of awareness, and easily corrected. Thanks.

DJ -
Oh, he/she sure does! Thanks.