Saturday, June 2, 2012
Thirty years later, with no break in employment, just changes in employers, I consider myself an authority on bosses and suck ups. Some of my best stories involve them. If anyone ever asks you to become a middle manager, you should consider it an insult. If you don't, well, then you're perfect for the job.
The middle manager is a special breed, and the worst of all bosses. They are both boss and suck up, the latter being a prerequisite for the former. Companies love to take fairly dim witted personalities and make them into middle managers because of their never ending ability to say "yes" to everything. Middle managers have no idea that this is what's happening, but don't try to tell them because they'll make you their new project.
The average middle manager never manages work, only people. They consider breaking spirits and working out their baggage from childhood as part of the job. If they could manage work, they wouldn't be middle, they would be top, which most middle managers never become. When a suck up accidentally makes it to the upper echelon of management, it is generally a disaster. I'm pretty sure this is why most managers are "at will" employee's. Since most of them never make it to the top, they are the most bitter of bosses.....and dammit, you're all gonna pay!
As soon as a new middle manager says "we need to be good soldiers" you know it can only go downhill from there. This translates into "jump off this roof for me because I told you to", never mind the fact that the fall will kill you. They fixate on one employee after the other because it's the only way they can look productive because they really don't know how to do anything else. Middle managers are the true proletariats in our society. Just tell them that they're smarter than everyone else and give them an office where they can play some nice music and they're good to go.
Some suck ups never become middle managers. These are the ones that enable middle managers to feel good about how important they are, and are rewarded with salaries that far outreach their usefulness. The suck ups ruin others by gossip and innuendo, thereby providing the middle manager with a steady stream of scape goats. This allows the middle manager an ally in their stupidity. Non manager suck ups tend to be just smart enough to be dangerous to anyone the works closely with them.
Don't get me wrong, I have met brilliant managers, and I can always tell who they are because they don't fit into this description. But these are few and far between and never stick around long. Companies generally recognize these individuals and promote them out of middle management quickly. If you have been a middle manager for three years or more, it's probably all you'll ever be. The Peter Principle, which says that some people get promoted based on their inertia as opposed to their usefulness, was created in regard to middle managers.
I am creating an entire new label category for bosses and suck ups, because I've known so many of them. Most of them don't like me anymore than I like them, and when they delude themselves into believing that they're the ones that will finally "tame the shrew", it always results in great stories and never ending hilarity.
Feel free to leave comments about your favorite idiot bosses and suck ups, of which I'm sure you've known many. If nothing else, you'll know you're not alone.