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3 Tip-Offs That You Might Be A Stingy Manager

July 10, 2018

By: Crystal Spraggins

Are you promoting a positive and productive work environment for your employees? Being a generous leader doesn't mean you have to give away the farm! Every so often I’ll encounter a stingy manager, and it gets me thinking all over again about what makes these individuals tick. Don’t they understand that inclusive, generous management leads to trust, high levels of engagement, loyalty, and increased productivity? No? What a shame!

There’s nothing to be gained by being a stingy leader. What do I mean by “stingy?” I’m so glad you asked!

Here are three things I've noticed over the years that stingy managers do:

(Please DON’T do these)

1. Low Employee Ratings

Rate everyone low or medium on performance reviews because a high rating means people are “perfect” and have nothing else to learn.


Are indifferent to the career aspirations of their staff. Stingy managers don’t offer stretch assignments that enhance the employee’s resume unless they think of it first or see the assignment as a personal “win.”

3. No compliments for you!

Hold back on compliments and positive feedback. Rather than focus on employee strengths, they focus on employee deficits that need “fixing.”

What’s behind all this? It depends. Some managers fear that being “too nice” will make them look “weak” and encourage employees to take advantage. Now, we all know that “nice” doesn’t equate to generous, but the concepts are often confused.  While it's true that a boss does not need to be well-liked to be productive, the best, at a minimum, carry the respect of their teams.

Other managers believe there’s no reason to be generous. Generosity is simply irrelevant. Employees come to work, do the job, and get a paycheck and benefits in return. What else is needed?

And then there are the truly troubled. These managers enjoy deliberately withholding positivity because they’re just mean. They might also believe that the only way to build themselves up is to make others look bad; an easy way to stand out that comes at the expense of their employees. There aren’t too many of these, thank goodness. If you happen to work for one, don’t expect any support. Stingy managers are notoriously bad at supervising others. Just earn what you can while learning what you can and get the heck out.

How to be a More Generous Leader

How can you learn to be a more generous manager? Self-awareness is a great start! Knowing your personal leadership style and the motivators/demotivators of the individuals on your team is an education worth pursuing. Generous managers have the potential to inspire intense loyalty, which in turn, causes their staff to work “above and beyond” on a regular basis. Tap into this loyalty by learning how to effectively communicate with all the different personalities on your team.

And not to mention -- generous management is a humanitarian, sustainable way to lead. Why wouldn’t a manager want to do whatever they could to help an employee reach their career aspirations? It feels great to do that! And in truth, a high-performing team can only make a leader look good. Finally, keep in mind that today’s progressive manager is more of a coach and mentor than a “boss.” Yes, the buck needs to stop somewhere, and there’s a time to pull rank, but generally that’s not every minute of the day. In fact, in the modern workplace, rank pulling is for special occasions only.

(And while we’re on the topic, don’t mistake genuine generous management for the favoritism that permeates authoritarian cultures. Giving out goodies like raises, promotions, flexible schedules, plum assignments, and extra perks to the office favorite (while ignoring the needs of other employees) is not what we mean by “generous management.” There’s nothing generous about misusing company resources toward a selfish end.)

But back to the original question – how can you be more generous in your management?  Simply put...practice those behaviors that stingy managers avoid:

(Please DO these)

1. Don’t hold back the praise.

If an employee does something worthy of a thank you (or better) say so. Whether it’s public praise, or a quiet email, everyone likes to hear it.

2. Don’t make employees wait to receive tangible rewards.

If you need someone to step up permanently, don’t give them the work without the raise, elevated job title, etc., until they prove they’re “worthy” of it. You asked them to do the work and that means you think they’re worthy already. Reward them in kind and stop being so stingy. You couldn’t get away with that behavior with an outside consultant. Why do it with someone who’s already on your team?

3. DO be a mentor.

Help your employees get to the next level. There doesn’t always have to be a direct line between the next job and this one for you to offer support, resources, and encouragement. And remember, this attention will pay off in increased retention and loyalty.

If I were to sum all this up in one word, that word would be “advocacy.” Unfortunately, that’s a scary word for some managers who believe their role is to be as neutral as possible. Not so. Neutrality has its place, of course, but advocating for your staff to receive what they need to (1) do their jobs and (2) develop as professionals is definitely within the job description of the generous manager!

Crystal Spraggins

Freelance Writer, Editor, and HR Consultant in Philly. You can find more of Crystal's work at:

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