Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2005-01-14
  Anti-Management Patterns
While talking to a friend the other night, he was grousing about the complete lack of input he was getting in his job which reminded me of my top all-time most hated form of mis-management: management by "no, that's not it, try again."

While there's lots of ways that managers can annoy me (which is why I make a lousy employee), and I'm by no means very good at organizing the tasks of others (just ask those that have worked with me); management by "no, that's not it" is a especially grating because of the values (or lack thereof) it exposes.

More than once, i've worked for others that have become so under-the-gun that they stop making rational decisions or doing any planning at all, and just start flinging tasks out the door of their office to the first hapless subject unlucky enough to be passing by or otherwise in range. The task starts out with hardly any definition, background, or constraints. But of course has the upmost importance & highest urgency. Once something is rushed through, it is brought back to the manager (who is of course gatekeeping the stakeholders and any information there might have been about needs and requirements) and the results are deemed insufficient, inadequite, or somehow lacking.

"No, that's not it, try again."

Thats about all the time and feedback you'll get to, unless you're willing to take drastic action (which will still not help in the long term, no matter how enjoyable slapping the manager silly would feel). I've gotten somewhere by bringing my work into the manager's office and refusing to leave until I've gotten somewhere, but that doesn't really solve anything. The problem is that ultimately the manager can't let go of the problem and hand it off to someone else. They don't trust others, combined with not valuing other's time and effort; so they send other scurring about ineffectively while internally they know they haven't solved anything and since they've set up the employee to fail, they'll have to take the project back eventually and finish it off themselves.

Without some major course correction, these guys are are headed straight for a crash-n-burn. Do not attempt to apply first-aid, run instead in the opposite direction as quickly as possible.

 
Comments:
Hi,
I had an interesting discussion with a friend the other day on a very similar topic. We thought that it is amazing how many books there are in the market telling managers how to "manage" their subordinates and their work, there are thousands of books on management science and art written for managers and executives, but there are no books whatsoever telling employees how to "counter-manage" their managers!.
 
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