Problem Managers & Employees: Danger Signals & Red Flags


(Note: No Order of Priority Intended….I Consider All These Red Flags as Needing ASAP Attention!)

(c) Nancy Byerly Jones 2010 
  • Excessive/chronic telephone & email message pileups
  • Regular client/customer complaints about unreturned telephone calls
  • Trying to keep up with it all without short hot list (“cheat sheet” or “road map”) re highest priorities for each day or week
  • Keeping clients waiting for service/meetings too long (and too often!)
  • Refusing to change outdated, inefficient habits, systems, policies
  • Holding irregular or non-productive employee/staff meetings
  • Offering too little or no effective training
  • Treating employees arrogantly, disrespectfully, rudely
  • Chronic disorganization, do-it-at-the-last minute chaos
  • Failing to assign priorities to employees’ tasks/cases/projects
  • Unclear or incomplete instructions to employees/customers
  • Failure to properly supervise fairly, consistently, resourcefully
  • Insufficient file documentation (e.g. no client engagement agreements, signed customer contracts)
  • Disorganized, sloppy files and paper management (or lack thereof!)
  • Failing to keep clients/customers/employees timely informed
  • Unexplained and excessive absences
  • Refusal to learn and use appropriate technology tools
  • Not teaching all employees how to be effective (and willing!) marketers 24/7
  • Failure to realize receptionists are Marketers of First & Last Impression
  • No long range plan for office/business/firm
  • Poor personal care (e.g. no exercise, unhealthy diet, no vacations)
  • Excessive reliance on employees for things only supervisors should do
  • Too many personal calls, Twittering, Facebooking and/or emails
  • Failing to maintain own work and personal calendars
  • Poor team player (e.g. “What’s in it for me?” attitudes)
  • Failure to show every employee he or she is valued and needed team member (or worse, not purging team of unnecessary, improperly placed employees
  • Competitive attitude with partners/other managers/principals/everyone!
  • Behind-the-back talker about other employees
  • Sloppy time manager
  • Failing to talk fully and clearly about costs/charges/fees with clients/customers
  • Excessive drinking or other substance abuse
  • Flirting or otherwise sexual harassment
  • Allowing personal relationships to influence business decisions
  • Rubber-stamping employee’s work product without careful review
  • Angry, hostile attitudes – bullying of any kind
  • Inconsistent and/or unfair enforcement of policy & procedures
  • Works with “cloud” overhead; brings and leaves trails of negativity
  • Stretches the truth, frequently misleads or outright liar


(Note: No Order of Priority Intended….I Consider All These Red Flags as Needing ASAP Attention!)

 (c) Nancy Byerly Jones 2010
  • “I’m here just for a paycheck” attitudes
  • “It’s not my office/business so why should I worry about mistakes, sloppy work, disgruntled customers/clients, etc.”
  • Unprofessional, rude or otherwise improper telephone manners
  • Chronic, excessive complaining
  • Trouble sticking to task
  • Refusal to learn and use appropriate technology tools
  • Talks spirit of cooperation with co-workers, learning new systems/procedures while actions prove otherwise
  • High-schoolish behind-the-back gossiping re co-workers and others to other employees
  • Frequent bad moods (e.g. brings and leaves behind a negative aura in the workplace)
  • Poor team player (e.g. “What’s in it for me?” attitude)
  • Overly defensive with constructive criticism or mistakes made
  • Chronically messy, disorganized work area
  • Poor personal care (e.g. no exercise, unhealthy diet, no vacations)
  • Excessive, repeated errors
  • Frequent absences
  • No interest in continuing education or self-improvement opportunities
  • Flirtatious behaviors, sexual harassment
  • Personal relationships with customers/clients
  • Sloppy work product
  • Failure or refusal to follow directions
  • Disregard for protecting confidential client/customer information (e.g. loudly discussing client matters within earshot of other clients, third parties, carelessly leaving confidential materials in common areas)
  • Frequent filing errors and/or habit of allowing documents needing to be filed to pile up
  • Never willing to “go the extra mile” for company/firm
  • Frequent delays, endless excuses in completing assignments
  • Failing to create and follow priority task lists
  • Treating customers/clients as unwelcome interruptions to their work
  • Failure to follow through (i.e. ensuring all enclosures in envelope, keeping supervisors properly updated, etc.)
  • Unprofessional, sloppy or otherwise inappropriate attire for office
  • Excessive visiting with other employees during working hours
  • Too many personal calls, Twittering, Facebooking and/or emails
  • Frequent tardiness including extended breaks and lunch hours
  • Chronic “It’s 5:00 I’m out of here” attitudes
  • Repeated refusal to follow company/firm policies & procedures

If multiple danger signals are being ignored by the powers- that-be, then there’s no doubt that productivity and resulting profits, a positive workplace morale and quality control and risk management efforts have a high potential of becoming as frozen as the 7′ icicle shared here.  This 2010 granddaddy of an icicle finally succumbed to warmer temps and overdue sunshine.  We all need to ensure the timely and complete meltdown of any repetitive negative behaviors in our offices…putting our heads in the sand dilutes our efforts to build solid and lasting success stories for our clients/customers, our firms/businesses and ourselves.

Please add to these starter lists via your comments and as always, many thanks for visiting  Wishing you a great rest of the day in spite of any jerks or lousy situations that try to mess it up!


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Nancy Byerly Jones

Nancy Byerly Jones is enthusiastically resourceful and tirelessly dedicated to helping her clients build success stories that last...and as a family law and workplace mediator, she is a passionate advocate for helping keep folks out of the courtroom and moving positively forward with their lives. And, oh yes, she also loves every minute at her family's mountainside ranch - the happy and always active home of 5 horses, 9 donkeys, 3 dogs and 1 very tough cat! She writes about the critters at Southern Fried Blog

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