Learning 2015

Learning 2015: 12 behaviours of a 'Jerk Manager'

Two of QA's business services team, Giles Smith and Jamie Thomas, are attending Learning 2015 in Orlando, a global forum for learning practitioners. Read Jamie's thoughts from day three of the conference.


Jamie Thomas | 4 November 2015

Learning 2015

Love 'em or Lose 'em

So far this conference has been mainly about attending sessions that I thought would either be interesting to QA or to QA’s clients. Yesterday afternoon, however, I decided to be selfish and attend a session that was directly for me…and I am so happy that I did.

Beverly Kaye is an author and a talent management consultant. More important than that, she is insightful, engaging, intelligent and fun. I know she won’t mind me saying that at 72 she is also one of the most energetic presenters at the conference. The title of Beverly’s session:

Love 'em or Lose 'em: Conversations to Engage, Develop & Retain Talent.

So this was me spending time reflecting on how I work with my team, and being introduced to the term 'Jerk Manager'…gulp…but more of that later!


Key points that managers should consider


  • Curiosity is key – curiosity is the management competency that is never on the list, but genuine curiosity (not fake) is key. Curiosity in the team, the company, the problem at hand. When recruiting managers look out for it.
  • Stay interviews – why do managers conduct entry interviews and exit interview but never 'stay interviews'? When was the last time that you had a conversation with a team member based around why they stay doing what they're doing when they have choices?
  • Help them grow or watch them go – great managers have conversations that are dropped in every day; mini-conversations that show they are aware and that they notice all of their team.
  • Don't be afraid to push back – when managers are asked to deliver too much they should be frank and honest: "I can't deliver that, but how can we work together to achieve our goals?" Eventually you will get 3-5 things that are within your control, that you can work on.
  • 5 things that every employee wants – how managers deliver on those five determines how well they retain their staff:
    1. Will you use all of my skills?
    2. Can I count on you to give me feedback; tell me what I am doing well; tell how to get better?
    3. Is this company going to keep me clued in as to where we are going in the future?
    4. Will you show me that I have choices here; challenge me to grow?
    5. Will you keep me at my learning edge?
  • Careers are developed one conversation at a time!

And then there’s the 'Jerk Manager'…Beverly and her team interviewed recent leavers from a number of companies to really understand what the main motivations for leaving are. This was distilled down to "my manager was a jerk!" Apparently there are 51 characteristics of a 'Jerk Manager', but below are the top 12.


12 behaviours of a 'Jerk Manager'

A 'Jerk Manager' will:

  1. Condescend
  2. Act arrogant
  3. Withhold praise
  4. Lack patience
  5. Micro-manage
  6. Give only negative feedback
  7. Yell at people
  8. Demand perfection
  9. Interrupt
  10. Hoard talent
  11. Show favouritism
  12. Steal credit or spotlight from others

Nothing like having a mirror held up to you!!! But the old adage "people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers" seems as relevant as ever!

And the final, but really critical element: both sides of the relationship have responsibilities. Team members need to take their obligations seriously and seek out opportunity. What makes you jump out of bed and what makes you press the snooze button? If you're in the snooze column you might want to have a chat with your boss.

The one book I have bought this week:

Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want by Beverly Kaye

More information

Most people know that QA provides courses, but we also run some of the UK's largest Managed Learning Services where our team of learning consultants help clients think through the practical application of learning.

Feel free to email me for more information: jamie.thomas@qa.com


Related blogs

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Learning 2015: Why senior backing is critical to L&D success

Learning 2015: How technology and big data are changing L&D


QA Training | Jamie Thomas

Jamie Thomas

Business Services Account Director

As Account Director for our Business Services vertical, Jamie is tasked with working with QA’s largest clients, helping them deliver effective learning services which have a demonstrable impact on their organisation's capability.
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