Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Management By Blaming Everyone

I encountered a management style recently that not only set me off, but also brought back some painful memories.

One of the companies I worked for in the past had a peculiar philosophy. A standard management cliche is "praise in public, criticize in private". This company in my past seemed to have a philosophy of "never praise, but publicly chew out the many for the few."

Like many companies, we had standard things like timecards and monthly reports to do. When I started, I tried to do them regularly.

Some weeks, other things cropped up (like travel), and I got behind. But for the most part, I tried to get them done on time.

Until I realized something. Whenever we had team or all-hands meetings, everybody got yelled at for not doing timecards and weekly reports. Literally, yelled at. We all got chewed out in a raised voice by a manager.

After a while, I began to ask myself the question: "What is the point do getting these things done on time (if at all) if I'm going to get yelled at for not doing them anyway?"

And so, I began doing my timecard at the last minute. I got no bonus points for doing it early, or daily like we were required. I also stopped turning in monthly reports. I felt no incentive for doing them. Getting yelled at with the rest of the team for not doing them removed the warm fuzzy I might have gotten for doing it right.

I tried to ask the managers who were doing that to stop. They refused. Apparently, Marcus Buckingham or one of his associates must have written a book explaining this was the optimal philosophy to encourage compliance with company policy.

I think I should go home tonight and have a drink of thanksgiving that I'm no longer with that company.

I'm also glad that this time when I encountered that style of management, I wasn't being addressed as a peon. I called the person who attempted that style and "explained" my thoughts on the matter. It will not be repeated. An apology was even issued.

If you aspire to lead people, don't passive-aggressively yell at your entire team just because a few people aren't cooperating with a policy. Take the individuals responsible aside and address the matter if it's that damned important to you. Praise the people who follow the requirement/policy. Even the most dedicated professionals are still human, and will only stand for it so long.

When you're getting chewed out whether you obey or not sets up a no-win scenario. Anyone who knows about the Kobayashi Maru (Star Trek reference) knows the only way to beat a no-win scenario is to cheat. The no-win scenario is a cheat itself.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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