One of the worst traits I’ve witnessed with managers is when they were unable to find a middle ground when it came to their style of management.
They were either really, really nice in their approach with a management style that lacked authority and seriousness or they were complete assholes! (A word that I need to thank Ash Ambirge for – Thanks Ash!). Basically, ruthless in their approach with no regard for their colleagues. We were there to be treated how they saw fit depending on their mood at the time, which could’ve changed at the drop of a hat.
And the worst case that I’ve witnessed was in job #9.
And why did this remind me of high school?
Well, both styles shared an immaturity about them that took me back to my high school days. They were either that kind friend that wouldn’t tell you that your hair looked crap even if it did. Or, they were that popular asshole in your class that got away with giving you shit because of their popularity status – their position.
Can you see the similarities?
Just so you have a clear picture of what I’m talking about – here are a couple of scenes to help you take it all in.
Scene #1 – A meeting with the really, really nice manager with very little authority. In high school this would’ve been one of the nice kids in your class eager to remain on good terms with the right people so they too would be considered cool.
One of the first meetings I went to in job #9 I couldn’t believe how disinterested people within the team looked. It was almost like they didn’t take the meeting seriously.
In the meeting there was one person going through the ‘to do’ list and she would read one or two items and them make a remark about how this was hurting her head, laugh and then look to the nice kid in class (the manager) to make a laughing buddy. Once they’d both be laughing, everyone would laugh or force a fake smile to show they were in on it as well. Because if you didn’t do this or looked as if you took it all too seriously, then you, my friend, would be considered uncool! And we couldn’t risk that now, could we?
While the person reading the ‘to do’ list would behave in this way the manager from time to time would shake her head as if to say “She’s silly, take no notice of her” using this as a sign to show how close everyone in the team was. NOT! Scene No. 2 will demonstrate this.
All I saw was bad management. I remember thinking what a waste of everyone’s time. This nice and unserious approach just got on my nerves. I was like, what the hell? Couldn’t the manager see that the person reading the ‘to do’ list wasn’t even interested? But to acknowledge this the manager would then appear to be too hard, or in high school terms, uncool.
And with future meetings that followed if you appeared too interested or too focused you were laughed at and jokes were made. Comments like “Mimoza is reeeeeeeeally focused” and “Mimoza is verrrrrrrrrrrry serious here.”
I couldn’t believe it. I was back in my early high school years, where I had to be careful not to appear to be too interested at doing well or I’d risk being branded a geek. That’s how I felt.
With no middle ground, this style of management went from one extreme to another. And this is what the other extreme looked like.
Scene #2 – A meeting with the popular asshole in class.
I walked into a daily meeting and started to go through the ‘to do’ list. I had a folder that was handed to me by a colleague that had previously left (surprise, surprise). As I handed the folder to my manager her response went like this.
“RIGHT! THAT’S IT!” (At this point she picked up the folder and slammed it on the desk – SMACK!) “I DON’T WANT ANY MORE FOLDERS HANDED TO ME! I WANT THEM ALL TO BE PUT IN MY INTRAY!
One word – ASSHOLE!!!!
And that’s the best way to describe it.
This manager that once laughed at you if you were too serious, now considered it acceptable to shout and swear at team members. Be completely rude and abrupt, slam folders on desks and give shit to people as a response to questions asked.
Is it surprising that this reminds me of the popular assholes in class that randomly gave people shit using his/her position of power to get away with it?
I think not!!
After half the marketing team left in a few weeks and management changed, the whole style of operation reverted back to its nice/unserious mode. And when people asked me, “Is it better now?” I would say, “No. Just a different type of crap.”
This was a sign of very weak management and something you need to look out for.
Blog Tip #24 – To get another take on what I’m talking about, you should check out Ash Ambirge’s blog post “You Don’t Have to Be an Asshole to Be an Authority”.
Ash is a professional writer, business women, smart ass, and founder of the unconventional career and business website, The Middle Finger Project. I’m a big fan of her blog and this blog post will sum up nicely what I’m talking about.
So, what did you think about blog post #24?
Now, have you experienced this before?
If you have, what were the things that stood out to you? Were there other traits that you noticed?
If you have any friends or colleagues that would benefit from this blog post – please share it!
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See you next week.