Management malpractice is defined as the use of managers and supervisors who are unqualified and poorly trained. Simply put, organizations that are guilty of management malpractice are ones who hire, retain, and support managers/supervisors who do not have the interpersonal and people management skills needed to improve organizational performance through their people.


  • Selecting new managers based on arbitrary systems such as seniority, technical competence, and personal bias
  • Hiring new managers without regard for their people skills
  • Retaining managers who are unskilled at getting results through people
  • Allowing managers to behave unprofessionally despite countless complaints made by their employees.

So how do you overcome management malpractice and install competent, professional management? The answer lies first and foremost in your hiring practice and in the implementation of quality people management skills training and education that is practical, where skills are transferable, and which deals with the realities of the organization.

First, managers/supervisors need to be technically sound. Those who are not, risk the loss of credibility and respect of their employees. Selecting managers who are not technically knowledgeable is simply unwise, as it sets them up for failure even before they begin.

Secondly, managers must be selected for their people skills. They must understand that people will work best when they are encouraged to provide input and suggestions for improvement, are recognized for their contribution, given the tools and resources to get the job done, and treated with respect and dignity. Treat others the way we want to be treated is very much alive here.

Managers must demonstrate the ability to develop strong and positive relationships with their direct reports. I may be a little biased here but in my extensive management training experience, I can say with certainty that developing interpersonal competence is considerably more challenging than acquiring technical know-how.


When an organization allows management malpractice to take root and grow, the results are widespread, affecting all areas and aspects of the organization. The first impact is felt by the entire corporate population. When management malpractice makes up part of the culture, or the way the organization functions, employees are sent resounding messages, and not necessarily spoken;

  • Difficulty retaining talent – talented folks leave dysfunctional corporate cultures. Inconsistencies, favoritism, lack of growth opportunities, and an absence of recognition are key reasons I personally heard talented employees give when leaving their jobs.
  • Difficulty attracting talent – well it rather makes sense; if talent leaves, talent is not attracted. Remember that bad news travel much faster than good news. As such, the organization has, over the course of a short period of time, developed a solid reputation in the industry, as well as within the local business community, for not being the greatest place to work at.
  • Trust issues – management malpractice automatically creates a lack of trust between managers and their direct reports, as well as between managers themselves. Many of the issues that should be dealt with are simply not, as ineffectual managers tend to procrastinate by pushing these types of issues to the side, or attack the issues without much regard for those involved.
  • Conflicts – many conflicts are unnecessarily created and could have been avoided in the first place. These conflicts are mainly caused by an overall lack of attention in dealing with and resolving people issues in an effective and professional manner.
  • Organizational performance – there is no doubt that management malpractice affects the overall performance of the organization, not to mention its bottom line.
  • Accountability – accountability for successes is generally ignored while accountability for failures is augmented. It’s important to “catch” employees “doing it right”, rather than focus only on “catching” them “doing it wrong”.