Friday, October 07, 2005
Stupid Manager Tricks, Part I
Stupid Manager Tricks I’ve run across at one time or another:
- Change your mind frequently, but don’t tell anybody. Moving the goalposts is profoundly demoralizing, yet oddly common.
- Tighten controls on meaningless details to show you’re in charge.
- Play games with the chain of command. Frequently overrule the people directly beneath you when people beneath them complain to you.
- Radiate stress.
- Make snap judgments about people, and stick to them in the face of torrents of counterevidence.
- Mistake personal like or dislike for evaluation of performance.
- Play out your personal demons via your organization. That never gets old!
- Refuse to make hard decisions. Always please the person in the room with you at the time.
- Frequently declare, “it’s not either/or, it’s both/and!” That’s non/sense.
- Budgets, schmudgets. Resources are infinite, if you believe hard enough!
What stupid manager tricks have you seen?
2. Writing memos on attractive Word templates.
And yes, Word templates suck.
My favorite manager trick was a manager who gave me no training (just said "answer the phone") and then got mad when I had to ask her questions.
An example: at my last (nonacademic) job, I interviewed for another position within the company--same group, more status. Apparently 2 days before the interview, the manager found out that the budget for this line had dried up, and there was no hope of funding it any time in the near future. But the manager (and HIS manager, no less) decided to go ahead with the interview, even though there was no chance I'd be hired. I found out 2 weeks later, and only because I asked directly what the status of the interview was. They said they didn't tell me because they "didn't want to hurt my feelings". Um, yeah, that strategy sure worked like a charm. Needless to say, I left that company as soon as I could, and never looked back.
Say gratuitously offensive things like, "I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, I know you are [insert accusation]" or "when you have a big club, you have to not be afraid to use it, so I'm going to [insert bullying]."
Fail to fund programs adequately and then punish the directors for "mismanagement"
Of course I don't know ANYONE at my university who would be considered a bad manager. All my managers are great! Just super! A shining example to all!
OK, here are mine:
1. If you are a department chair, tell your subjects (er, I mean adjuncts), "I want to support you in any way I can." Then never reply to their e-mails or return phone calls.
2. Tell them, "I want to make sure your program grows and your students get scholarships." Then don't give their students scholarships. Explain, year after year, that you will have money for them next year, but you need it for your own students just this once. Later each year, be sure to ask why they have so few students in their programs. Act confused when the adjuncts explain that they don't have scholarhips to offer. Imply that the adjuncts should simply recruit more. Don't offer to pay for this time.
3. Say, "I never want to exploit your time." Then ask employees to work extra hours and take on extra projects. Offer no compensation for this.
4. Don't tell your underlings when department events are scheduled...until a day or two before the event. Then make sure that everyone knows that your underlings couldn't attend because of "personal problems."
5. If you work in HR, make sure to send e-mails to everyone to explain the health insurance benefits. This is particularly encouraging for those employees who are not eligible for benefits.
But of course none of this ever happens in academia, right? :)
Also don't make a report of the one-on-one meetings
Accept bullshit from others without verifying this during the evaluation round
Communicate directly without being delicate with your workers feelings.