Re: FWD: Managing managers and cell phones

Subject: Re: FWD: Managing managers and cell phones
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 2004 14:03:09 -0700

Bruce Evans wrote:

As a proudly autocratic type manager, I'd fire you. Quite frankly, as a
manager, my five minutes are worth more than yours. If all you can do to
fill in time I'm doing something else is watch a seagull's nest, I need a
more imaginative and work-oriented employee. It's not your role to train me,
that's my manager's job.

You just don't get it, do you?

To start with, you'd be in no position to fire me at the company I was talking about. It works on flex-time, and so long as I put in the expected hours and met my deadlines, if I wanted to take five minutes to bird watch, I could. You'd also have to explain what your problem was with the writer who had got documentation on track and actually read by customers.

For another, you clearly belong to a very different school of management from me. When I play manager, pride and aristocracy have so little to do with my style that I consider that, in most cases the more orders I have to give, the worse job I am doing. I may give work to somebody that I could do because my time is better spent on something only I can do, but if I'm wasting another employee's time, even a subordinate's, then I'm a liability to the company. I also consider it a duty as a manager to show some respect to those whom I organize; it means we work together better, and they're more likely to show other people the same respect and work together better with others.

As for the training comment, I was being ironic and perhaps a little hyperbolic when I wrote. However, on sober thought, I would defend it anyway. It's a novice's naivety to imagine that the flow of information goes only one way in the manager-employee relation - and I'm not talking about formal feedback, either. Managers don't need to be loved, and, in fact, those who try to be loved are usually disasters. But they do need to be respected, and the easiest way to gain that respect is for them to show respect for their subordinates. If employees aren't showing respect, then any manager worth keeping needs to observe that and mend his or her behavior, if necessary going to a superior for advice. I was simply providing the feedback in a lowkey and humorous way.

Originally, I didn't mention the manager's fate, because it wasn't relevant to the story. However, now, I'll mention that, a couple of weeks later, he was fired for incompetence. One of the complaints against him was that he was wasting too many people's time. What's more, the complaints came from many subordinate to him in the company.

That's what proud and aristocratic management techniques lead to - the Peasant's Revolt, followed quickly by the unemployement office.

Yours in solidarity with John Ball and Wat Tyler,

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177


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