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Classy Management

December 19, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

The true contempt with which I hold a lot of managers is no secret. I have made it clear on many occasions that I despise the majority of the managers I have ever met and I think the profession itself is probably the greatest threat to progress and wellbeing the world currently has. Maybe it’s not the managers who are the problem – many of them are great people when they are out of their professional roles – it’s more the way management itself, as a profession, works.

So it’s not that the idea of a coordinator or administrator or even a leader of a group of people is necessarily a bad thing, it’s more the place management finds itself in in the modern world. And I’m sure there are some good managers out there too. I have even met a few, at least some people who started off quite well until they were inevitably either ground down to the uniform mediocrity of their colleagues or who were moved out of the way through various devious antics by their seniors.

Let me give you a few examples of why I dislike management so much. The following three news stories were all in New Zealand papers over the last few days…

The government has cut jobs at the Inland Revenue Department in Greymouth. Just to add a real element of class to the process they have done it a week before Christmas and shortly after about 100 people lost their jobs because of the Pike River Mine disaster. To add insult to injury senior managers made it sound like they were doing the workers a favour because apparently the redundant workers wanted the changes to go ahead and wanted the certainty of knowing the future as soon as possible. Yeah sure, I can just imagine them pleading: “please make us redundant just before Christmas!”

Management at the North Island freezing works, Silver Fern Farms Te Aroha, cut the pay of their workers after they stopped work to observe a two minute silence for the men killed in the Pike River Mine disaster. The request for the silence had been made by the prime minister. Classy! That really has to be the meanest, most despicable behaviour I’ve heard of for a long time. Sure, the money involved was minimal and I wouldn’t be surprised if processing the change didn’t cost more than any money saved. What idiots!

The CEO of New Zealand’s state owned rail company, KiwiRail, won’t even let his own company take on the work of building new engines and other rolling stock for a new Auckland line. He prefers to let the work go to China instead. The man’s got real class! If he looked at the big picture instead of just a single number he would be able to make a more reasonable decision on this which looks to the future of the company and the country. Instead he pursued this simple-minded, short-sighted strategy. What a genius!

It seems to me that most managers follow simple-minded rules when they make decisions. Despite what they say, they don’t see the big picture. And sure, I know being a manager isn’t easy, but most jobs I know of aren’t easy.

My job isn’t easy either: I have to keep up with the latest technology, juggle my time to do multiple tasks simultaneously, try to provide good service to my clients despite management decisions which make that difficult, and work in multiple areas of the fastest moving profession (IT) on the planet. And I don’t even get paid the big salaries the managers do!

So don’t give me the sad story about how hard management is. I’ve seen managers at work and I wouldn’t mind taking on the challenge of being one. It would be a lot easier than what I’m doing now. Except of course, I couldn’t do that, for two reasons: first, I have too much professional pride and moral sense to become a manager; and second, I would have to work with other managers and attend meetings with them. I can’t imagine anything worse!

So I would encourage workers to reject the idea that management are their friends and that the best and most professional approach is to cooperate with them. Sure, give your managers a chance and if they play fair then they deserve your respect and cooperation but also be prepared to treat them as the enemy because in so many cases that’s exactly what they are!

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