Here are some theories and frameworks of bad management I've come across. Keeping them in mind as a handy "Do Not Do" guide.
The Mushroom Theory of Management
Sergeant Dignam: My theory on feds is that they're like mushrooms. You feed them shit and keep them in the dark.
From "The Departed"
Mushroom management is when upper levels of leadership do not share information downstream. Teams end up working on projects without knowing the purpose of their work, or without knowing how it fits in to the bigger picture. This hamstrings planning and creates misalignment. It also forces waterfall-like planning, putting the onus of architecture and integration on higher levels of management that are likely disconnected from on-the-ground realities.
This tends to happen because of a culture of poor communication or due to arrogant leadership that doesn't consider others' opinions.
Please note, this is different from the Mushroom Theory of Managers, which is where management is promoted and grows all over the place, resulting in a) inflated titles and b) a lack of individual contributors responsible for actually getting the work done.
"A seagull manager is one who periodically flies into the area, makes a lot of noise, dumps on the people, maybe eats their lunch, and flies away."
Seagull managers swoop in at odd times, make a lot of noise, and then are not seem from again for a while. If things are good, they'll take the credit. If things are bad, they'll blame everyone around them.
I suppose the inverse of a seagull manager is a 'Mollusk Manager', who gets stuck on something entirely tiny and is entirely too hard to get rid of.
Petty tyrants own a small area of responsibility and rule over it with an authoritarianism disproportionate to the role's importance. These aren't necessarily managers either – I often think of that proverbial coworker in finance who won't do something unless it is done entirely in their arbitrary way and won't budge for anything.
Toxic environments, 'kiss up/kick down', and abuse of power/control are all synonymous with this style of work.
Thank you for reading.
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