Bad Managers On Cruise Ship

Jul 29, 2023

We all have at least one bad manager in our careers. It's a bit more complicated on the cruise ship because the influence on the employees is drastically more impactful. In my experience, here are some of the most common attributes of a bad manager.

Encourages office toxicity

What is an indicator of a good manager vs. a bad manager? The bad manager constantly bullies or harasses everyone into doing things their way. They don't intervene when they see bullying behavior and are unwilling or unable to apply conflict management techniques to resolve disagreements amicably.

Fails to communicate consistently

A good manager needs to provide announcements, explanations, and updates to the team but expects the team always to inform them. Their decisions tend to blindside the team and create confusion over responsibilities and accountability.


Bad managers develop a superiority complex and feel free to justify changes in decisions or processes to their team. They are unpredictable and defensive when questioned. This stems from the fact that their focus is on asserting authority than on building relationships. They tend to disrespect low-level workers, forgetting that they, too, were in that position not long back. Respect is consistently earned, never given.

Indulges in blame games

When things go wrong, a bad manager's first instinct is to blame something or someone else. They deny any incompetence on their part and tend to protect their interests. Rather than create an environment for individual accountability that gives them a clearer picture of what is happening, they hold the entire team accountable. This affects performance appraisals adversely, with members experiencing anxiety over a possible demotion, pay cut, or bias.


Bad managers exhibit micro-managerial tendencies. Micromanagement stems from deep-seated mistrust and anxiety. Such managers feel this is the only way to ensure things get done and insist on frequent updates. They also make decisions unilaterally and feel free to keep communication two-way. As a result, most decisions catch teams unawares. Over time, employees feel underappreciated and over-scrutinized.

Discourages innovation

Another distinguishing factor between a good manager vs. a bad manager is that bad managers are opposed to new ideas, fearing that they would upset the processes already instituted early on. While some may encourage ideas, they may not necessarily act on them. Such behavior kills the creativity needed for innovation.

Cannot stay objective long-term

Bad managers make it all about them and cannot stay objective long-term. They tend to play favorites and are biased against certain members, creating discord. They nitpick on the team but forget to praise and credit efforts where it's due.

Averse to learning from others

Bad managers dislike learning from someone else, especially if that person is new to the firm or junior in position. Such managers are opposed to mentoring programs where the roles of mentor and mentee are flipped. They tend to value and prioritize their experiential judgment over that of others.

In order to differentiate a good manager from a bad one, we tend to think that all managers always behave a certain way. The truth is good managers can have bad tendencies and vice versa. No manager is any particular extreme.

That said, a few identifiable traits are consistent with strong leadership ability. For instance, a good manager vs. a bad manager is someone the team feels comfortable reporting to. Members interacting with such a manager enjoy hashing out ideas, participating in discussions, and pooling their knowledge and experience. Such groups contribute to the business and remain driven, competent, and productive.

A good manager can read the room and observe how team members work together. They can settle workplace disputes and step in when a conflict impacts work progress and demoralizes the rest of the department. Good managers are more intentional in creating a supportive, safe, and healthy work environment. Good managers know their team well enough to give constructive feedback and invite feedback on their leadership ability from their managing teams.

There are different types of 'bad' managers. The adjective does not imply that they are incompetent or unqualified. Some do what they are told, which includes micromanaging their employees. Such bad managers are ultimately just puppets controlled by their superiors. Then some managers cannot give feedback, either out of a lack of context or unwillingness to understand what individual team members do. Some highly knowledgeable and experienced managers would instead do their previous job than supervise the people now doing it.

What are the five qualities or skills a manager should have?

A manager should be a good conversationalist, which means being able to listen just as well as they speak. They should be able to make decisions and stick to them, bearing in mind any consequences and rewards. A good manager is also good at delegation and is comfortable assigning accountability and responsibility to those they identify as suitable for the task.

  • The five qualities a manager should have:
  • - Interpersonal skills and communication
  • - Foresight and adaptability
  • - Decision making
  • - Objectivity
  • - Credibility

At the end of the day, managers manage people, not jobs. And there is still time for a bad manager to turn over a new leaf. All it takes is self-introspection. If you recognize some or all of the signs listed in this post, it's time to consider consciously overcoming unfavorable personality traits.

Clearly, there are differences between good and bad bosses, but what exactly are they? Understanding these differences can help to bridge the gap between the two. 

When they make a mistake

Bad bosses typically never admit when they are wrong – instead, they blame their mistakes on others. These kinds of leaders won't take ownership of their mistakes. Instead, they seek to excuse them. Insecure managers will let mistakes keep them down for long as they lack confidence in their abilities.

Good bosses will reflect on their actions and admit when they are wrong. They take ownership of their mistakes and apologize when necessary. These managers will learn from their errors and work to prevent them from happening again. Great bosses are resilient, which allows them to move forward after a setback.

When it comes to employee performance

Bad managers will avoid having conversations with employees about their performance. They do not meet with employees to establish expectations and skip performance reviews. When it comes to underperforming employees, bad bosses must be bolder and open to challenging accountability conversations. Bad managers let poor performance go unaddressed and great performance go unacknowledged.

Good bosses communicate clear expectations with each employee. They also monitor performance and provide timely, pointed feedback. They confidently conduct performance reviews with employees to identify improvement areas while offering support and resources. These managers recognize outstanding performance and then reward employees in meaningful ways. Instead of making assumptions about an employee's poor performance, great managers ask questions, remove barriers, provide mentoring and training, and hold the employee accountable.

How they respond to negative feedback

Bad bosses do not like when they are given even the smallest amount of negative feedback. They take criticism very personally without regarding the impact of their accused actions. They tend to get irrationally offended, shut down, or explode when receiving negative input. Poor managers become consumed with criticism, unable to learn from it. Or they become unmoved by the critique, unwilling to grow from it. These bosses often defend their poor leadership qualities instead of admitting they have areas that need improvement.

Great bosses make a habit of routinely gathering feedback about themselves from employees, peers, and managers. They want to know the good and the bad, so they ask direct questions about their leadership abilities and skills. These managers use critiques to help them become better leaders. They can roll with the punches and not let negative feedback keep them down.

How they motivate

Bad supervisors motivate with fear. They rely on their position, rank, grade, or title to get people to do the work. They tell employees what to do, how to do it and expect no questions to be asked.

Excellent bosses motivate by inspiring and empowering their workforce. They do not use their level of authority to encourage employees. Great managers strive to define the purpose of the team's work so employees are inspired by the impact they will be making. They make employees feel like they are making a difference in the company. Good leaders show that they value and appreciate their employees.

How do they handle bad behavior?

Bad managers allow toxic behaviors to occur in the office routinely. They might not personally care for the conduct that is taking place, but they choose to let it be. These supervisors prefer not to confront such behavior because they don't know how to, don't care, worry about retaliation, or do not like conflict.

Good managers are poised to eliminate destructive behaviors swiftly and tactically. They know that toxic conduct will quickly create a negative environment for everyone. Great bosses meet with the individual acting poorly and skillfully correct the behavior. If things do not improve, they follow official misconduct procedures to reprimand the individual formally.

When it comes to developing solutions and new ideas

Ineffective leaders believe their ideas and solutions are the best. They are not interested in seeking other perspectives or ideas. Poor managers are always the ones with the loudest voice in the room. They sit at the head of the table and dominate the conversation. They make it clear that their opinion is the only one that matters.

Good leaders create an environment that encourages other viewpoints and perspectives. They look for ways to foster diversity of thought and embrace new ideas. These managers only develop some solutions, but they inspire employees to think innovatively and utilize creative problem-solving skills.


There are clear differences between good and bad bosses. Understanding these differences and discussing them will go a long way in helping all managers grow, develop and improve.

In the cruise ship industry, understanding how to deal with a bad manager can make a tremendous difference in your life at sea.