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Nothing's Too Hard...

Entry 1579, on 2013-10-13 at 12:56:42 (Rating 4, Comments)

I have a favourite phrase which I think applies to many situations. It's that "nothing's too hard for the person who doesn't have to do it themselves". By that I mean people who either don't know or don't care (or both) about the complexities and difficulties of something often demand action in a particular way as if it is trivial, and to them it is, because they aren't doing it.

To make this clearer let me give some examples. Of course, these are theoretical and should not be construed as applying to any particular person or workplace in the real world...

A manager enters a technical person's office and demands to know why they haven't charged out enough hours on their timesheet this week. There might be various reasons for this: maybe there was just less work to do for a short period of time, or maybe urgent work needed to be done which wasn't chargeable, or maybe the person worked less hours because they did a lot extra last week. There are many possibilities, and most of them don't fit in with how the manager thinks the system should work.

But it's easy for the manager, of course, because they don't have to do a timesheet. Why not? The usual answer is that "it's not appropriate". But that's just answering the question by re-phrasing it. Why is it not appropriate? I think I know why and I think most managers do too. It's because no one would pay them. They do nothing of any value that anyone would pay for and if they had to charge out their time that would soon become obvious.

So they can get all indignant when someone else fails to live up to a standard which they refuse to accept for themselves. No wonder most managers are despised rather than admired. They really are the most hypocritical, worthless parasites on the planet.

Here's another example. A manager demands (notice how often that word comes up) to know why a technical problem hasn't been fixed for an important client. The manager has promised it would be fixed quickly (not by them, of course) and when it hasn't been naturally wants to know why.

Again, there are many reasons this might happen. Let me name a few: a problem can't be resolved because the action required to fix it is against policy, or there is poor infrastructure in place which is beyond the person's ability to fix, or other more important issues have arisen, or the fault lies with product choices the organisation has made rather than a specific issue.

But the manager is unlikely to consider any of these "appropriate". They live in a dream world where every policy is perfect, the infrastructure works superbly, the technical staff are responsible even for things they aren't allowed to change, there is never anything more important than their pet projects, and product choices are always above criticism.

It's easy for the manager to promise a solution without the slightest understanding of what is involved and when no good solution is possible it's always someone else's fault. It's never too hard to make promises when you don't have to keep them yourself.

As I said, these are just generalisations based on incidents people tell me about (especially my source "Fred" whom I have mentioned before) and don't necessarily refer to any specific situations. And I'm fairly sure there must be some really exceptional managers out there (although I have never met one or even heard of one existing). But I think they do represent reality in most cases. The system of hierarchical management most organisations have virtually guarantees this type of parasitic level of management will exist.

What can we do about it? Well I don't know - it's not my job to fix it - but how hard can it be?

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Comment 8 (3644) by OJB on 2013-10-13 at 16:37:13: (view earlier comments)

Well yet again you are making this personal rather than discussing the phenomenon more generally, however I will reply: I'm sure that being a manager has it's difficulties, primarily involved with fulfilling the demands of other managers. I would be interested to know what managers actually do because whenever I ask it seems to be basically nothing. It would be really interesting to swap roles for a while. I am fairly confident about one thing though: I could do my manager's job much more easily than she could do mine!

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Comment 9 (3645) by Anonymous on 2013-10-13 at 17:00:42:

A bit of a generalisation, you make yourself, that all managers are worthless. You're only assuming you could do the manager's job. Wouldn't be long before you lost your rag & told someone where to go.

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Comment 10 (3646) by OJB on 2013-10-13 at 17:06:06:

I didn't say all managers are useless. I said this: "And I'm fairly sure there must be some really exceptional managers out there (although I have never met one or even heard of one existing)" so all I said is that I have never met an exceptional manager. Do you have a problem with that?

The only hard part about being a manager would be having to carry out instructions from higher managers which I disagreed with. A manager doing my job would last 5 minutes before a technical issue beyond their abilities revealed their total inadequacy.

And another thing: who are you? Have the courage of your convictions and enter your name next time!

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Comment 11 (3647) by Anonymous on 2013-10-13 at 17:29:51:

I used the word worthless, just like you did. Now enjoy your evening.

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Comment 12 (3648) by OJB on 2013-10-13 at 17:53:55:

Ah yes, you did say "worthless" not "useless". But I said "most" are worthless, not "all" (if we are going to play that pedantic little game).

Anyway, thanks for the discussion, and if you are a manager yourself please consider the points I have made here and which you have totally failed to answer. I really honestly struggle with this issue and I am perfectly prepared to admit I am wrong but I never get a real answer to these points which makes me wonder if there is no answer.

And you enjoy your evening too!

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