My Boss, the Tick
1: The first immature stage (larvae, which are many times called seed ticks) have only six legs. These larvae must find and attach themselves to a host in order to get a blood meal. After obtaining this blood meal they usually drop to the ground, shed their skin and emerge as 8-legged nymphs.
Bad managers are usually bad because they manage people. In order to cause any real damage they need to latch on to a poor unsuspecting schmuck for survival. Surprisingly, as incompetent as some bosses appear, they’re the ones that usually get promoted… just like the tick. The big differing point here is that the boss remains in an immature state.
2: Adult ticks may require several days of feeding before they are able to reproduce. Male hard ticks usually die soon after mating, and females die soon after laying their eggs.
Idiot managers try again and again to spread their venom (unwittingly of course). After awhile, their host wears down and gives in. Unfortunately, the managers don’t die. They get moved to the corner office. Why won’t they die???
3: Most ticks spend the bulk of their life on or near the ground, waiting for a suitable host animal. Since they cannot run, hop, fly or move quickly, ticks must climb onto an appropriate object such as tall grass or weeds or up onto fences and siding of buildings.
Most bat-$#@%-crazy bosses are like this too. They exist on the lowest rung of the morality ladder. They lack the intelligence and creativity to do things on their own which is why they have hosts, I mean, employees. The bright employees are the ones who usually do all the work without getting the credit. Then, after all of their hard work, the idiot bosses will further suck the life out of them by telling them they did a lousy job and steal away any shred of self-confidence they may still have about themselves.
4: Most ticks will feed on blood from a wide variety of animals, with only a few tick species feeding on but one kind of host.
Many bully bosses will continue to abuse one employee. Usually it’s the employee with confidence, a great reputation, willingness to please and good relationships with others. You know, the ones that actually pose a threat to their boss (at least in the boss' mind). After a few too many “feedings”, the employee begins to blame themselves for not being able to stand up straight after they’ve been completely sucked dry. They’re even willing to have transfusions so the tick boss can continue feeding.
If YOU Were the Perpetrator
The thing is, no one is going to read an article or a book and have an “a-ha!” moment of “I’M THE IDIOT!!!” Really, if it were that simple, more people would be paying attention to start with and there wouldn’t be ugly managers in charge of people. They’d be left alone with angry ant farms to control.
So let’s just face up to the nasty reality that Idiot Bosses will very likely NOT change any time soon. If others in the company notice an Idiot’s behavior and have the ability to effect change, then fantastic – my hat’s off too you. However, most of us live in the real world, most of the time anyway.
Inhuman Resources is there to protect the company’s hide and incompetent managers are left in place: it’s the “victimized” employees who are left to suffer more abuse, damaged reputations and diminished self-esteems. They will have to fly the coop to be rid of a bully boss.
Unless of course one of those Acme anvils happens to come crashing down on them like in the Roadrunner cartoons. That would be so cool.
The Con Game
Thad goes on to say that “good managers learn to recognize when an employee says he can do something but doesn’t mean it”. One of the responses managers should look out for is (and this one gives me goosebumps), “If everything works out well then I should be able to…” in regards to getting a project done. According to Thad, this is a sure sign of a confidence issue.
I say that it’s a sure sign that the manager could be a completely incompetent schmuck who doesn’t know their ass from their elbow. Let me explain why. That employee could be a perfectly able (and willing) individual. As a matter of fact, this person may have even been a high achiever on previous projects. So why the change? Perhaps the Idiot Boss has interfered one too many times preventing this employee from being able to get anything done, thus killing their confidence.
It’s true; if you meddle in someone’s work or throw something else in the mix that is completely unrelated but just as demanding and expect it to all be done at the same time, you’re going to have problems. I assure you of this. So now all of a sudden this person that you’re giving a project is answering you with, “If everything works out well then I should be able to…”. This means that they don’t know what you’re going to do to trip them up or sabotage them. They’re not mindreaders. If you do what a good manager is supposed to do then you’ll let them do their job and they’ll produce results. Get in their way and they won’t. It’s that simple.
So then Thad goes on to say that the 3 questions a manager should ask an employee who exhibits these confidence issues are:
-Do you know what is expected? (Yes, I’m not an idiot thank you very much. I’ve only been in this job for YEARS).
-Do you think what's expected is attainable? (It won’t be if you have anything to do with it).
-Can you do what is being asked of you and can you do it on time? (Knowing you, you’ll throw every obstacle you can think of plus 9 other projects that need to be done concurrently and then you’ll write me up for not getting this first project done, you dolt).
Here’s some questions that the employee should be asking the manager in return:
Did you get your degree out of a Cracker Jack Box?
Were you teased as a child?
Have you been skipping doses on your meds?
I mean, honestly.
The Dilbert Principle
Let me tell you about my life since my prison break last month. There is no more clarity now than there was then, I can tell you that. In a way, those miserable events leading up to my departure feel like they occurred a lifetime ago and to another person. Although I wouldn’t go as far to say that I’ve developed Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (like many in my situation have), but it’s been years since I haven’t been so closely scrutinized. My shoulders are just about in “resting” position – relaxed and away from my ears.
Remember how surreal 9/11 felt? It was a very real event but had very unreal aspects to it. My job experiences were very real events with some completely unreal twists and turns. The corporate culture was my terrorist. They were my Al Qaida. I only need to find some WMD and sent the troops in to set up a democracy and elect some new leaders. See, just like the real world, this will probably never happen and those on the inside don’t want outside assistance.
I’m almost too happy to oblige and stay out of it, but I won’t keep my mouth shut. One of my new goals is to break the habit of constantly looking over my shoulder.
Are You Asking For It?
Really? Let’s take a look at this. What are some reasons why some supervisors micromanage?
1. The manager has an obsessive/compulsive need to be in control. Trust me on this one, there is no way that an employee wants to be caught in this mess. It is an outright ugly and demeaning situation to find oneself in. The manager will not change but rather make your life miserable. Get into another department or look for another job.
2. There is lack of trust in the relationship. There could be a few reasons this occurs. Maybe the employee did something that questions their ability to get the job done and the supervisor is required to step in. The other reason could be one that stems from #1. If the manager needs to be in control, they will never trust anyone to step in to do the job as well as they can. While this may or may not be the case, it does nothing to foster the subordinate’s self-confidence to be able to do the job. It causes doubt and then people are miserable on all sides. Not a good place to be in.
3. The subordinate is not capable of making any decisions on their own. This is the only scenario that has a shot at being valid for micromanaging. Believe me, I’m not saying that this is right… I’m only giving a nod that this happens and may not be the manager’s fault.
So you need to ask yourself: Who is this person that I hired that cannot convey a complete thought without my help? Chances are, if you hired them, they have at least half a brain to do the job.
Have they been trained properly? Perhaps the questions stem from confusion over how to complete certain tasks. Revisit these things as appropriate.
Are they making the same mistakes over and over? Perhaps they don’t understand the job properly or maybe they’re just not cut out for the work. If after some coaching, the individual still shows zero aptitude for their job responsibilities, it may be time to cut the ties and set them free. Hopefully, they’ll see that the relationship isn’t working out and agree to an amicable split.
However, through all of that, not once do I get an image in my head that anyone is going to want to be micromanaged. There’s a big difference between asking a question for help and not knowing how to do the job. If the employee seeks constant reinforcement on the same issues, then it is the manager’s job to properly mentor the employee and foster and a strong working relationship. Sometimes people need to be encouraged to take changes or accept accountability. If the person is that insecure about doing the job, then it really needs to be asked if their career goals are realistic. It may be time to shift gears and try something else.
Don’t babysit your staff. Trust me – they don’t want it.
Pie In The Sky?
However, not all companies allow for telecommuting. Granted, not every job can be done from the comfort of one’s home. So right there we can’t question why everyone isn’t “doing it”. For those companies that have it and allow employees the benefit to work from home, there are still individuals who are not allowed this privilege. Let’s look at some reasons why some managers shoot those people down:
1: Perhaps the subordinate’s job isn’t truly flexible enough to allow it. While the benefit and capability may be there, the job may be too volatile to rely on a fixed schedule of being away from the office. If the job is such that impromptu meetings spring up, it may not always be feasible to be on a conference call regularly. Face-time is premium in some jobs. If you think about it, out of sight, out of mind really can come into play. Being present in the office is sometimes the best option.
2: The boss is a micro-managing jerk. Let’s face it, if you work for a micromanager (and many people do), you’ll probably never be allowed to take advantage of this perk. There may be ways around this. For example, if you’re new enough with the company it may take some time to earn your boss’ trust. Prove that you are a reliable employee. Over time, you will be allowed more leeway. If not, well, get used to the four walls on the inside of your cubicle. If your manager is the type that is nothing but insecure or a power freak, they will need to keep you under close watch at all times. It doesn’t matter how good you are, these people will never bend. Remember, you are not in the business of managing or changing other people. You’re in the business of managing and completing your own workload.
3: You are simply not reliable. You know if you are or not. Perhaps your boss is right to keep you in the office full-time. Are you a slacker? Do you spend more time surfing the internet more than you should be? Deep down, we know when we’re working hard and when we’re hardly working. You are simply not a good candidate for this and cannot be left on your own.
Keep in mind that I didn’t enter office politics into this equation. That’s a separate discussion and not a true black-or-white situation. I’m not saying that reason #2 is a good reason, but it’s probably free from political motives (unless the boss keeps you around because they feel threatened by you). Of course, not everyone wants to work from home all the time either. There are many positive aspects to working in an office. Having the company of others is the frontrunner for this.
More to come later.
Manage Your Manager?
Rule #1 in “Good” Management: You Do NOT manage other people, you manage your work.
This is what I think when I read these “tips” on managing your manager: It sucks that managers try to control their subordinates but hey, it’s okay for you to stoop to their level and control back. What? Are we in grade school here?
I have 3 words for you folks: Listen. Relax. Think.
Listen to what your manager is actually saying to you. They’re going nuts because they have a deadline to meet, right? Okay… so it’s not about you. Get over that. Relax. If you’ve worked with this individual long enough you know the shots they’re going to call. If you don’t yet know what those shots are, then pay attention and find out what they will be. Think. If you know how they operate and what they need, then be one step ahead of them and give them what they want! Then later on you can pat yourself on the back for being a hero.
Of course, this is provided the manager isn’t out to sabotage your career. But there are ways to get around your manager’s incompetence or negligence.
First: Put in writing any project or request you are required to do.
Second: Follow up on progress (1: So they don’t freak out and/or 2: So it gives them a clue as to what is going on).
Third: Deliver what you promise!
This is you managing your work. You cannot control other people. You can only be responsible for how you react in certain situations. So be in control of that!
© Copyright 2006 Pied Piper Consulting