There’s a Reason They are called “Managers” and not “Leaders”

Meetings

Management (big “M”) absolutely adores having meetings.  I think that, for them, it fills the time between golf games and “business lunches” at Hooters.  For the rest of us, they’re drains on energy and resources where we repeat (over and over) the problems and what would solve them, while Management repeats (over and over) why they can’t hire more staff or pay for more perks (before you get on my case about this, these are the assholes that expense everything.  When they buy you Starbucks in the morning it’s not because they’re being nice – it’s because they wanted coffee and they didn’t feel like spending their own cash.  Frankly I’d rather they just give me $3).

Meetings are an important part of the Managers’ Agenda.  They allow the Manager to place Blame.  For fun, try this:  The next time your company makes a really big, shitty policy (having to punch in within 60 seconds of the time your shift starts, taking away the fridge, banning smoking on the property, new processes that slow down your ability to do your job, etc) look at who is breaking the news to you.  Are your Managers anywhere in sight, or have they given the job to the managers and supervisors due to an “unavoidable scheduling conflict”?  The shittier the decision, the more absent they will be.

To the rest of us, Meetings occupy “time” (the most precious commodity).  It would make sense, for example, for me to meet with my manager, and for my manager to meet with his Manager, and so on up the chain.

As it usually stands, I have to meet with my manager, then I have to meet with his Manager.  I also have to meet with my Supervisor (because he has a meeting with my Manager later), and I have to squeeze in a meeting with my Lead (who isn’t my Supervisor, but he supervises me).  Confused yet?  This starts to sound an awful lot like Office Space, but it’s not an exaggeration.  These assholes seem to think that that movie was a HowTo Manual.

The meetings are there to let us know that all 5 layers of management concur: There’s no budget available for more employees that perform the work, and overtime is available for all salaried employees because we’re behind schedule. Still.

Metaphors

Management (capital “M”) absolutely loves a convincing metaphor.  Referring to a group of employees that compete with each other for bonuses (or worse, positions) are not a Team.  At best they are competing with each other to accomplish the same goal (this generally accomplishes the goal by risking 50% (or more) of your talent), but it usually creates a half-planned, half-complete project that’s only halfway competent and only has half of the function of the original scope.

Likewise, unless you are actually providing ground support for actual troops in an actual war, your ground-level employees are not “sharing a foxhole” or any other colourful turn of military phrase.  It may suck complete ass to be working the Drive-Thru at Burger King, but unless they undercook the meat nobody is likely to die.

Human Resources

I bring this up because frankly it’s about time that someone did.  Honestly, does anyone believe that the Human Resources department is looking after their best interests?  If you do, have you ever complained to HR about your boss?

Try it – you’ll probably change your mind.

Human Resources JOB is to tell you that they’re looking out for you.  It’s their job to make sure that the company is protected in the event of a dispute between the employee and the company – that’s it. Do you know why they tell you that they’re looking out for you?  So that you’ll tell them when you’re upset so that they can try to intercept it before you sue or quit. They aren’t even remotely interested in whether your boss has been “unavailable” for the last 8 months and has a new yacht.  They don’t care that you have been assigned to “indefinite on-call” on top of a 60 hour work week.  They want to know when you think that you can take your information to a lawyer so that they can make a token effort to shut you up – nothing more.

Again, when I was working at the medical place, there was a “situation”.  See, my boss – a FANTASTIC Manager (one of the few) – got too socially invested with his corporate cronies.  So much so that he became a liability and was canned – typical corporate bullshit.  The result of this was absolute panic in the IT department.  We had rats abandoning ship left and right…unfortunately, my lack of work experience (at the time) left me with little recourse but to try to ride out the storm.

Let me tell you right now that unless you have a decade to blow, BAIL.  Get the fuck out of there, it’s not worth the time or stress.  That shit’ll kill you before it’s fixed and it is very likely that you’ll be blindsided and fired during a “reorganization” before that happens anyway.

I was stuck – what could I do?  I was left doing the work of a half-dozen techs all on half their salary. Sure, I could have dropped the ball and let the IT department fail.  At which point I would have been fired for not “doing my job”.  They might realize later that the job takes 12 IT guys but that isn’t much consolation from the unemployment line.  So I put up with it and I stuck around (for awhile).

Around me, IT guys with more experience were finding other jobs and getting out.  Some found better jobs and some found worse jobs (although all of the jobs were temporary), but all of them left.  One day, when I called in sick (something about 20+ weeks in a row of on-call does that to a tech) I received a call from Human Resources.

I thought for sure I was going to be fired.  I was the last of the “olde guarde” and we had finally gotten some of the newer techs trained “enough” to be self-sufficient.  I completely expected the call to be of the “don’t come in tomorrow” variety.

Nope – instead I was afforded the opportunity to let my bosses know (anonymously, of course) about my grievances.  Finally some positive change could come about!  The department could get turned around and I didn’t have to stick my neck on the line.

I came clean.  Not because it was anonymous (I’m not one to pull punches at the best of times), but because they asked. Whoo, boy did I come clean.  I spent an hour explaining that paying helpdesk wages for Systems Administrator work was shitty, and that expecting that same employee to endure weeks upon weeks of on-call was even less reasonable.  I related the promises for higher wages (that never came about), the promised promotions (also never materialized), the interrupted vacations (all of them) and the various members of upper Management that didn’t seem to be providing much value for their cost.  Anonymously, of course.  Because that’s what’s they told me would happen.

Less than a week later, while I was in the smoke break area enjoying a rare moment of solitude, the CEO of the goddamned company asks me, “So, I hear that you’re looking for work.”  I was only surprised by how expected it was.

I was eventually blessed with the (albeit, temporary) opportunity to leave that place for greener pastures (which turned out to be mostly dead and dying, but the trick of the light was pretty amazing) where I encountered even more Managerial Follies.

You want more?

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3 Responses to There’s a Reason They are called “Managers” and not “Leaders”

  1. 智耶寿 says:

    Like I’ve said but more succinct, and allot of why most Managers are entirely impractical in technical jobs.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation

    • Roknrol says:

      Wow – excellent Talk, and nailed it. I think it’s kind of telling that higher levels of Management don’t understand what motivates people. (for the Managers reading this, the answer is “money”…Cripes….)

  2. 智耶寿 says:

    You pretty much hit the nail on the head. I really wish that I could disagree with you but pretty much everything you described has matched what I have observed.

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