Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lives of the Smitten and Clueless Pt. IV: Traits of a Good Leader


 "I got to work with lighting people, who made me look better than I really am. I got to work with audio people who make me sound better than I really do. And I got to work with producers and directors, and just all kinds of talent people. They made me look a lot smarter than I really am."

Many people focused on the teary-eyed reflection that Jay Leno made last night, but, emotion aside, there is some truth about good leadership in his words.  A truly good leader makes his team strong by building on the strengths of his team, not by showing how well he can belittling his subordinates into submission. This is almost a polar opposite from the tactic you see in the bully and supporting toadies relationship.  Instead, what we have here is a functional family of workers, that one can almost liken to a happy shop of elves all doing their best to help Santa with his big job. 

This relationship is devoid of manipulation and jealousy.  Where, before, we had offers of favors and threats of punishment, we have now, a respected captain who knows how to site abilities in people and organize those abilities appropriately into a functioning body.  He also has a good trust in his subordinates.  Kind of like the trust that Captain Kirk displayed for Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Lieutenant Uhura.  In turn, Captain Kirk gets loyalty, respect, willingness to expend extra effort to achieve a particular goal, and at last, job security!

Folks, when you are disappointed with your lot in life, you should never look around, or down.  You need to look up.  You need to look up in order to see who's pissing on you.  It may be that you can't do anything to change it but leave your job.  If you aren't in a position to leave your job, then at least LEARN something from the situation and quite possibly avoid working yourself into the grave. Learning how to spot the traits of both poor leadership and good leadership will help you make better decisions about your career.  

Some last thoughts are...Leadership is always experienced through the employee, not the other way around.  Poor leaders don't just fail to lead, they experience failure that they blame on others, they cause traffic jams of information and process, and in the worst cases they cause harm by trying to get revenge or punish their reports.  The same can also be said about bosses that dole out gifts and favors above and beyond nominal. You better believe that boss is going to ask you for something later and any employee who accepts poor leadership by "doing extra work" to help out the boss is only contributing to the problem. 

One friend and co-worker I know in my industry once got a Chanel handbag from her boss.  She always had a disgusted look on her face when she carried it.  When I asked her why she looked so disappointed about her gift, she just said, "I can't afford it."  

"But it's free!" I said.  

She simply responded, "I don't want to owe her anything I can't afford to do...therefore, I can't afford it."  

What a sticky situation to be in. It doesn't sound like her boss trusts her in the first place...which is certainly not a sign of a good leader.





Monday, November 11, 2013

Lives of the Smitten and Clueless Pt. III : The Way a Bully Works

Databases are like old people.  They contain a wealth of information.  They get slow, sick and become obsolete.  So, if we think of a manager of people who care for old people, a nursing home administrator of sorts, it is a little easier to understand this person's job would be like. For example, a nursing home administrator manages highly smart, technical people in the appearance of Nurses, Physical Therapists, and Dietitian's.  In much the same way, A DBA Manager is responsible for managing highly technical people in IT that take great care of sensitive customers.  A DBA Manager is also responsible for working with managers of other highly technical teams within the organization.  Just as you wouldn't hire a sycophantic ass-kisser to manage a nursing staff, you shouldn't do this with folks who manage your DBA's.


But it happened to me.  I've been asking myself, "Why would you want some ass-kissing novice to come in and treat your staff like a peanut gallery?"  I finally came up with the answer, because all bullies need toadies.  Yes, the most successful bullies have toadies.


Having a toady or two means you've freakin' ARRIVED!  After all, don't you need someone to hold the other kids down while you beat them up?  Beat-downs are always more effective when accompanied by a small army, aren't they? What about rushing through internal decisions so that your buddies at your previous company get a large sales contract from your new employer?  NOW yer talkin'!

So what exactly is a toady?  No, not one of my favorite Texas bands. I mean ass-kissers with no sense of mercy.  I rather like the way Google defines it:

toad·y  

/ˈtōdē/
Noun
A person who behaves obsequiously to someone important.

So how do you know if your leadership has hired a toady?

  1. Does the hired never challenge the boss on strategic issues, but liberally compliments the boss instead?
  2. Does the hired do personal favors for the boss?
  3. Do people often say of the hired "How did she get hired here?"
  4. Is the hired driven by one of the following motivations?
    • ambition
    • insecurity
    • incompetency
Did you know that new bosses often troll for toadies?  Have you ever been asked to be the one to fire someone, or "keep an eye on that guy"?  You may have been being surveyed (unbeknownst to you) for being the next wing man for a corporate bad guy.  Once, my crappy she-manager asked me to tell her the names of all the people who were causing me trouble at work.  Then, when I refused to do it, she tried to get me fired with my year-end review.  Funny how my 10 good years at a company will make a hater's crappy attempt look like a lie.  Because that's what it all was...a lie. In the end, no matter what kind of toady your crappy leadership is trolling for, the result is the same:  failure of progress in the organization.


Why? Because you can't get work done between departmental teams with someone attached to your ASS.  If your toady's one and only skill is ass-kissing, she'll soon learn that she can't kiss all the asses with her head up yours.  You need to be able to at least kiss most of the asses to make progress in an organization, or at least make others feel like you're kissing their ass.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Prediction: 6 months or less until employees start renting out spots


If there's one thing I've learned through experiencing hard times, it is to never ask, "What's next?"

If you want to know why, it's because sometimes you find out. I never imagined the drastic steps my workplace would take when the hotel next door decided they would not allow our overflow parking anymore. I don't think you will either, so let me just show you a picture.


I think the steps to create these extra spaces consisted of the following:
1) mow the grass next to the corn field
2) spray the white lines to mark the spots
3) clean off the messed up lines
4) re-spray the lines in the correct spots
5) build a ramp using gravel


Don't forget to go to Wal-mart and get some reflectors on a stick...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Celebrations

It was a year ago this month that my life started getting a lot better here. Thank the Gawdz.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lives of the Smitten and Clueless - Pt II

Help!  There's a toad in my database!

(DBA's will get that joke)


Databases are like old people.  They contain a wealth of information.  They get slow, sick and become obsolete.  So, if we think of a manager of people who care for old people, a nursing home administrator of sorts, it is a little easier to understand this person's job would be like. For example, a nursing home administrator manages highly smart, technical people in the appearance of Nurses, Physical Therapists, and Dieticians.  In much the same way, A DBA Manager is responsible for managing highly technical people in IT that take great care of sensitive customers.  A DBA Manager is also responsible for working with managers of other highly technical teams within the organization.  Just as you wouldn't hire a sycophantic ass-kisser to manage a nursing staff, you shouldn't do this with folks who manage your DBA's.

But it happened to me.  I've been asking myself, "Why would you want some ass-kissing novice to come in and treat your staff like a peanut gallery?"  I finally came up with the answer, because all bullies need toadies.  Yes, the most successful bullies have toadies.

Having a toady or two means you've freakin ARRIVED!  After all, don't you need someone to hold the other kids down while you beat them up?  Beat-downs are always more effective when accompanied by a small army, aren't they? What about rushing through internal decisions so that your buddies at your previous company get a large sales contract from your new employer?  NOW yer talkin'!

So what exactly is a toady?  I like the way Google defines it:

toad·y  

/ˈtōdē/
Noun
A person who behaves obsequiously to someone important.
So how do you know if your leadership has hired a toady?
  1. Does the hired never challenge the boss on strategic issues, but liberally compliments the boss instead?
  2. Does the hired do personal favors for the boss?
  3. Do people often say of the hired "How did she get hired here?"
  4. Is the hired driven by one of the following motivations?
    • ambition
    • insecurity
    • incompetency
No matter what kind of toady your crappy leadership is trolling for, the result is the same:  failure of progress in the organization.

Why? Because you can't get work done between departmental teams with someone attached to your ASS.  If your toady's one and only skill is ass-kissing, she'll soon learn that she can't kiss all the asses with her head up yours.  You need to be able to at least kiss most of the asses to make progress in an organization, or at least make others feel like you're kissing their ass.

Bleh, I feel dirty now.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lives of the Smitten and Clueless - Pt I

I've always believed there are 2 types of managers:
  1. Those who hire people who know something they don't, then refer to their reports to help making important decisions
  2. Those who hire people they believe to be "lesser than" themselves then proceed to bully, micromanage, and back-talk their employees into following in line with their desires
Manager type 2 is most often what fails an organization on multiple levels and drives employees to quit. Manager type 2 is what I just survived. 

It all started out very innocuously.  My company's IT department was going through multiple reorganizations within the department. I remember the crazy, willy-nilly assignment of managers like an old cartoon joke where a cat would shake a stick with a mouse on the end then two mice would appear, then three.  Managers were popping up everywhere.

Then after the managers were picked, the choosing up of sides would begin! It was funny to watch, kind of like when kids pick teams in gym class.  Everyone runs to the team they want to work for.  My team ran under another organizational umbrella and under the guidance of a man, we'll call Mr. Smith.

In all honesty, we (the talent) were all getting pretty sick of having our managers' positions changed every 2 years. It gets very hard to complete long-term projects in an organization when your managers keep changing.  The last major project we completed took 3 years from start to finish. So...what you would want to do here, is look for a type 1 kind of manager.  Well, not unless  you are Mr. Smith...and your new girlfriend needs a job.

Oh yes my lovelies!  Get ready for Lives of the Smitten and Clueless next on Work du Soleil!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Possible Victory?

The saga of the parking policies continues...

In my last post about the lousy parking policies of this company, I wrote about my failed attempts to actually take advantage of one of the 10 medical parking spaces that took up the now precious parking space commodities at the office.

About 30 days after my rant, HR followed up with me.  Being contacted that long after the fact angered me.  In the time it took HR to respond to my concern, I could have worked from home while my foot healed. It didn't help every day when I had to hobble back and forth a half mile to my car RIGHT PAST EMPTY MEDICAL PARKING.  So...I figured that while I had HR's attention, and while I had 6 weeks of paid time off banked up...I'd shoot off my mouth.  (Now, it's not normally a good idea to shoot your mouth off, in an email, to an HR representative.  BUT, when you are worked to death, in physical pain, and the victim of neglect...and, I say this again, 6 WEEKS of paid time off banked up...you might weigh your options.)

So I did something I usually say I never do....bitched at HR.  Perhaps it was the pain talking?  Perhaps it was the endless months of b.s. I put up with over 2 completely incompetent higher reports.  Perhaps it was the constant negative attitude I got from the Engineer who sat two desks down?  Sorry, that was just the straw that broke my toe, I guess you could say.  I told her that is was a waste and a shame for an injured non-pregnant person to hobble past all the wasted front-row parking spaces

Of course, I got no response...via email.  A week later, I walked in to the office to see this:


See the empty poles with no signs on them?  Yeah, I did that.