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

The Buffers

I’ve brought this up a few times already and I should probably expand on it so that you know what I’m talking about.

By their third year of college, Managers have learned that the best way to avoid responsibility is by disseminating it. Spread that shit far and wide. A truly successful Manager will never have any actual responsibilities – instead, they’ll have managers (or (S)supervisors, or (L)leads – the capital letters allow for a various levels of expansion without actually giving up any real power) that are held accountable for departmental deficiencies. If this is done on your own level PLUS the level above you, you are highly insulated from prosecution and can survive for quite a long time by deferring (or deflecting)  responsibility. If the managers below you are proper Manager material, they’ll arrange for buffers of their own – otherwise “they’ve invited disaster and have proven so by failing.”

The layers of Management that I have access to are pretty close to the bottom rung – as I said, I prefer to be where the real work gets done.  From the best that I can tell, nearly every layer between the bottom and the top exists for the sole purpose of justifying its own existence.  They juggle responsibility the same way that…well…that politicians juggle responsibility.  Shit.

Seriously, you realize that they’re getting a mostly free ride, right?  We’re letting them. It’s only costing us our sanity.

Helplessness

The poor employees.  Those of the low wages and high expectations.  They’re the ones that truly suffer, as their only goal – their only purpose – is for the company to succeed.  After all, that’s all they’ve got – once you get past the “paid for doing a job” bit, you really don’t have anything other than pride in a job well done.

This would be enough if the “purpose” weren’t lost to Managerial confusion.

My job as an IT professional is pretty results-oriented.  Most of the jobs that I’ve held have been of the “it’s broken, please fix it” variety, which means that if it ain’t working, I haven’t done my job. For more creative type pursuits – developers and programmers – it’s even worse, because the Managers usually don’t understand what the customer wants, so if the developers deliver what they’re told to deliver then they’re wrong either way.

Managers more than two levels above your position aren’t going to know how to do your job.  In my case, they don’t know the difference between “broken” and “fixed”, and I imagine that two levels above your own position you see the same thing.

Now, the complicated part is that these Managers are always looking for ways to save money, and that means that they are going to demand that you justify why you’re there.  The challenge is in managing to do that without actually teaching them how to do your job (for all of their education, Managers are notoriously frightened of learning something new and will rebel at the first sign of “learning how to do work”).

The aforementioned metrics filled this role in my last company, poorly.  It’s like being judged solely by how clean your desk is.  If you’re not a desk cleaner, then why is that even relevant?

So Where Are the Leaders?

Oh – I guess I forgot to address that…I figured you’d pick it up on your own.  They’re gone – they’re off doing important shit with important people.  You’re not going to find real Leaders in your job because you’re a normal person and you work in a normal place, don’t be ridiculous.

If you want Leadership, then you need to provide it.  You’re not going to find it with the brown-nosing masses, and you sure as fuck aren’t going to find it with your degree-possessing Managerial doofuses.

As with anything else, assuming that “someone else will do it” isn’t going to get you very far.  If it’s important to you, then you need to stand up and say something.  If shit is intolerable, you need to be willing to leave for something else (even if it’s not necessarily better). Yes, it’s idealistic, but how in the hell else are you going to effect change?  You need to demand it before it happens.  If they (meaning Managers, or even other douchebags) know that they can ignore you and you’ll put up with _<insert shitty policy here>__, then they will continue implementing shitty policies that appear to justify their existence at your expense.

Loyalty

When all is said and done, these companies offer you ridiculously low pay for an extremely complex job and then wonder why you’re unwilling to stay “loyal”. They act like you’ve deliberately gone out of your way to hurt their feelings when the reality is that they didn’t earn your loyalty – after all, “you’re not getting paid to think”, “we’ll try to get you that raise next year”, “we had to reduce the quality of benefits this year”, “I know you already don’t have enough time…”, “you need to come in this weekend,” and “the company party is mandatory because last year nobody showed up”.

What Next?

You made it!  If you read the whole thing, drop a comment below.  If you want to offer me a job drop me a line…bonus points if it’s something I’ll enjoy. I keep hoping for that elusive “no-man” job, where some high-priced CEO pays me to not feed him a line of shit.  I can hope…

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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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