Every now and then, I think it's healthy to sit back and recap on industry best practice. However, I'm not going to do that here. It's much more fun to tear into worst practice. I'm talking about the sort of institutional behaviour that transforms the simplest task into something requiring a 20 person committee. The measures …
I hate to break this to you, but Dilbert has been describing all this and making us laugh about it for years.
I found out years ago that the only effective way to handle know-nothing management-suck-up jerks in the workplace was to agree with them and then go and do the right thing anyway. When it works, there's nothing left they can say against you that doesn't harm them more than it does you. Even the most flattery-prone manager is capable of recognising actual, positive results.
Mond you, I've never thought of myself as having a career ...
*looks over shoulder*
You've got this place bugged haven't you?
Very astute article, I smiled in several places after recognizing personality traits amongst my colleagues that you described.
The best way to handle them is, like a magician, to misdirect them - always leave obvious things for them to find and worry about, whether it is a letter, report or a program - allow them to stew with it and leave you alone to get on with the job
This is one of the functions of large companies. I have noticed that the type of indolent, untalented, timewasters described in this article are either attracted to, or otherwise end up at large companies.
LCs are a safe environment where they will be among their own kind, who understand that it's better to do nothing than to risk making a mistake.
LCs therefore provide a valuable social benefit to smaller, more dynamic companes who are the real innovation power houses (until they get bought up by LCs, work that one out!) by removing these individuals from the recruitment pool.
This lets the smaller companies them get on with the real work of developing new, profitable products while the old dinosaurs, who used to be known as nationalised industries, lumber on with only their legacy customers keeping them going.
Some LCs are learning however. They are developing programmes (such as "working" from home, ITIL, ISO9000) to isolate the ineffectives and prevent them from dragging everyone else down. The key is to keep them bogged down in process and review for so long that by the time their output gets to the surface, the original situation has gone away - or changed beyond all recognition. In which case, restart the dolts on the modified problem and repeat as necessary for their entire working life while those who "can", "do".
Yup, ticks all the boxes here
Yes, all sounds just like here, and going to a global scale, you meet managers who discard existing working solutions in favour of brand names, eg ticketing == Siebel, or mail == Exchange.
I suspect a lot of the SOX and HR compliance stuff has become so burdensome, especially in initial implementation, that people who promise to solve these issues are overpromoted, and can use them as a club to impose their will on others.
Regarding drama queen, it does seem that women do very well in this highly political environment. It's probably a male sexist plot to make women managers look fools though :-)
The address to send that Turing award is...
"If anyone has figured out a way to deal with this, please let me know. I can't say it officially, but just between us, this significant contribution to the industry should see you well placed for a Turing award."
I find the "mis-directed email" gambit can work well in these tricky situations. Basically, attempt to forward an email to your line-manager pointing out the technical deficiencies of the enclosed email, and "in-advertantly" fail to edit the CC list. Obviously, if the source of the offending email _is_ your line-manager, then something altogether more BOFH-ish will be required.
Keep your bags packed
I've found that the only way around such situations is hop out the door for someplace else. Find the innovative companies, and go work for them. Leave the dullards behind to rot in their own mess. Sorry, but that's the way it is when a manager hires people that they know beforehand aren't smart and won't get things done.
'E-mail demons' always use HTML mail because they can then show off their l33t text formatting skillz (and use them to cover-up their less stunning writing skill).
Sooo.. I used to just bounce such mail back to the sender (and the CC list) attached to a plain-text e-mail containing a boilerplate response..
"This message was not delivered because the recipient's e-mail system does not accept HTML formatted e-mail.
HTML formatted e-mail is generally spam, malware or other unwanted e-mail in which the formating of the content is more important to the sender than meaning, security or efficiency.
If this message was actually important or business related please re-send it as a plain-text e-mail, rewritten in a manner that does not rely on HTML formatting to convey it's meaning."
.. I'm particularly proud of the phrase 'important or business related' although now that I think about it the intended meaning of that would have been clearer if the word 'or' was in bold..
And you haven't even started on the salesmen
IT company salesmen are the biggest bane of my life. How much better it would be if we could dispense with their services.
Read it - live it
Keep your job and take notes - good material.
And... the enemy are human - meet their family at the next holiday party. They're human, scared, and work hard at covering for their lack of ability (well you at least noticed).
I second the salesmen comment
One of the biggest problems we faced in a previous job I held was sales staff telling customers that, "yes, we have that feature" even when said feature didn't exist and hadn't been discussed, and we were still struggling just to get core functionality to work, assuming the stupid thing would even compile.
Multiply that by the half-dozen or so possible clients, each of whom wanted a slightly different feature set.
Management has no long term memory
Case in point, I was a system manager for a large VAX and IBM shop. One of the operators had an idea to improve operations and submitted a Methods Improvement Report (MIR, now some of you know where it was, in Dallas). We started printing header and trailer pages to better sort the print jobs. This used three pages (why? I don't have the foggiest). About 6 months later, the same operator submitted another MIR to strip out the trailer page (really two pages) to save paper. Both were accepted and he got a $50 bonus for each.
"You can reply to his CC list or you can ignore it. In one case, you will be interpreted as belligerent; and in the other, you're letting yourself be walked over. If anyone has figured out a way to deal with this, please let me know. I can't say it officially, but just between us, this significant contribution to the industry should see you well placed for a Turing award."
I'm fond of taking them out drinking and "borrowing" their company phone to send harrassing messages to the head of HR. Just remember to return it so they can be searched in the morning.
What sometimes works is "I'm sorry. Apparently my intention was unclear. We just wanted to..." then re-explain with diagrams and appropriate use of crayons to attempt to steer the would-be demon to the correct point. If you make it sound like you're fault they got it wrong, sometimes you can revive the idea.
Great stuff, and so right
That was a good ranting article that made my day actually. Just tell me, when did you come to Belgium and had a snoop in the company I work for??
While reading, I could constantly hear the sound of hammers hitting nails on the head ;-)
0dDayTrading Mans Entrance.
You work in the Brussels Circus, Chris? ....ReOrganising Chaos?
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