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Good People, Bad Managers

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Good People, Bad Managers

How Work Culture Corrupts Good Intentions

Oxford UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Do you understand what drives your behavior as a boss?

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Applicable
  • Eye Opening


Samuel A. Culbert, a UCLA management professor and frequent author, examines the systemic nature of management problems and their roots in cultural habits. Reading the first two parts of his manual may make you cringe at your own behavior – or at your boss’s – but these difficult sections provide a meaningful set up and context for Culbert’s recommendations for positive change. The not-so-subtle title calls for initiating a meaningful, productive conversation with your boss when you’re ready to implement the changes Culbert suggests. getAbstract recommends Culbert’s intelligent, workable method to HR managers seeking to improve corporate morale, culture and internal communications; to self-aware leaders and to young professionals intent on moving up the managerial chain.


“Bad Management Is the Norm”

Employees are at their best when they can report to supportive managers, work effectively, receive recognition and see that they’re making progress toward worthwhile goals. Work doesn’t need to drain your spirit, but bad management is pervasive and that is its impact.

Generally, bad managers are people with good intentions who aren’t aware of the forces spurring their behavior and the negative impact of their actions. Most managers are fair, try to handle problems intelligently and consider their employees’ concerns as they pursue their personal goals. But at pivotal times, such as when managers are trying to win support for a project, they can give in to being “self-beneficial.”

Managers also tend to advance toward “skilled incompetence,” becoming so expert at sweeping people up into a company’s imbedded culture, even if its negative, that they themselves have little motivation to change their behavior and would risk too much if they did.

Academic Management Skills

Degrees from elite business schools don’t guarantee great management skills. Such schools don’t sufficiently teach “active...

About the Author

Samuel A. Culbert teaches at the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles, and frequently writes for management journals. He has written or co-authored seven other books about management, including Get Rid of the Performance Review, The Organization Trap and Don’t Kill the Bosses!

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