Friday, November 2, 2007

Why managers are all asses

When I say that managers are all asses, what I really mean to say is that eventually they will all become asses. New, fresh faced, naive managers of course do not count. This is were I fit in for a while. I post this blog because of my opinions on a prior blog written by my friend and cousin Joseph Dewey (we are distantly related through my Grandmother also named Dewey).

This is the Blog: All managers are jerks <-- This isn't what it's really titled, but I've decided to keep my swearing down to a minimum and it's companion piece: All managers are jerks part II .

Here is the problem. Managers are jerks for the same reason that people talking on behalf of God are jerks. No matter how cool they are, eventually they are going to tell you to do something that you don't want to hear and tell you to do something that you don't want to do, and you will take it and do it, but you won't like it. That's when the manager turns from 'he's ok' to the butt of all authority based jokes.

I have been a manager for about 9 months. In this period of time I've decided that I've learned everything I need to know about managing people. Because of that I've decided that there is a definite reason that all managers are jerks or going to be jerks.

Time

Yep, that's the reason. Nothing more. In my stint as a failed manager, I will say that I went into the position with one extraordinarily misplaced assumption; If you treat people decently then they in turn will be decent to you This is a credo that I've tried to live by my entire life. Much of the time this requires TACT. Unfortunately as a manager I've come to realize that this is not at all true. Many people will in fact return your kindness with a knife in the back. More about that at a different time, or maybe never.

Tact is an interesting skill that I've developed over time. It's the conversational art of getting a difficult point across while simultaneously not making the target feel bad. If you are good at it, you never have to lie. If you are bad at it, you lie all the time. For example:

Aunt Edna has a hideous hat that makes her look like a totem pole. She has worn this hat to the symphony much to everyones amusement.
Bad tact: Edna that hat looks so good on you! It's wonderful!
Good Tact: Edna, you're choice in hats is second to none.


Bad tact was that it was a lie. You didn't believe it and neither did she. Good tact allowed her to think the best of what you were saying but leaving room for misunderstanding that you will leave at that.

The problem is that in either case you haven't solved the problem of Edna's hat. In management, it's different. You have to tell someone that they reek of body oder and that they need to shower on a DAILY basis. If you go the tactful route, it will take you about 1/2 hour to deliver this message, and they will feel bad, but they may not dislike you as a result. If you go the direct route "Hey Frank, listen, everyone has been complaining that you stink and you need to get bathed EVERY day". Frank's feelings will be hurt and he will think you are a jerk for saying it like that. HOWEVER you have saved 25 minutes and more importantly you got your point across in no uncertain terms.

Time is money, especially in management. So eventually, managers will tend towards the abrupt and rude methodology not because it's a power trip, but because it saves them precious time. The problem of course is that they can and often do go too far in the other direction and seem to take a sadistic pleasure in the bad news they are delivering to you. They don't have time for hurt feelings etc. If you want to work for someone nice, get a job from your mom.

1 comment:

Joseph said...

Good blog. Had much more tact than my blogs.