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Y 'Management"?


DesDownunder

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Do I need to tell you what I am going to do with this, even though it means I will become destitute...again?

Y ‘Management’?

What exactly is the problem with the current generation of management? They go out of their way to call in experienced staff and then seemingly setting them up to belittle them, and their experience. Having now lived with this new management style in a number of different situations, I am absolutely fed up with management's incompetence and disrespect.

It seems like managers are always too busy to listen to the advice that they ask for, and then demand that the task, whatever it happens to be, be done their way, despite the advice proffered. When it is pointed out that there are inherent dangers in the task being performed in the way demanded, they then play the old game of overriding the staff’s advice with, "I'm the manager, and you must do as I say."

If that isn’t bad enough, some time later, when the manager returns to find the staff complying, and performing the task as he demanded, he insists that it is dangerous, and that they are not to do that again. He has completely ignored his own responsibility for the situation, and leaves the staff in a state of disbelief.

This creates stress, anxiety and tension in the staff, to such a degree that only three outcomes are possible.

1. The staff attempts to continue working; an accident occurs, with endangerment to the staff or the equipment, or both.

2. The staff leaves, because they believe their resignation is what the manager is trying to engineer by the above tactics.

3. The staff leaves because they do not want to become a casualty, or work under what they feel are intimidating conditions.

It is this last one that often leaves the management in a perplexed state of mind. Modern managers feel that they have done nothing wrong, when in reality, they understand neither the nature of the human relationships involved, including the employees’ relationship to their environment, nor the limitations of the equipment.

They justify their demands for the sake of a client, or an outcome, without seeing that the way they relate to the staff actually increases the risk of catastrophe to personnel, equipment or that all important, outcome. Of course, when even minor infractions of work place events cause problems, it is believed to be the fault of the staff. Such managers rarely realise that their own inability to relate to the warnings from the staff is the root cause of the resulting problems; even seemingly unrelated problems, due to stress. In addition, when the manager thinks he knows better than experienced qualified staff and physically interferes in the work place, any resulting disaster is considered to be due to the staff’s incompetence, or failure to understand what the manager wanted. In fact, any disaster is very often because the management does not allow for the experienced methodology of the staff; the very same staff who were chosen for their experience. At best, non-existent or confusing communication can be traced back as the underlying problem.

How have this generation of managers reached their positions of power with so little understanding of effectively managing their employees? Much of the problem is due to generation ‘Y’ managers having only an administration degree that included instruction in regarding ‘human resources’ as being ‘things’ to be used, instead of them being people with whom to collaborate. This is much the same as the much older school of management, which was taught to regard the staff as the enemy; as employees never giving worthwhile service unless they "came to work with fear in their bellies."

Good managers do not need to know every detail of the workplace environment if they have a relationship of trust with their employees, and on whom they can rely to furnish relevant advice on the operation and maintenance of the equipment. Previously, older managers had generally acquired their business knowledge and human relationship skills on the job, over many years of workplace experience.

Sadly, this management expertise is no longer being passed down from older managers to younger ones, resulting in people's livelihoods, and lives, being endangered because of the mentoring legacy having been largely abandoned.

This places further tension on management, and also stresses the staff, who cannot help but believe that, when their advice is ignored, or they are told that an instruction was given when it clearly was not, they (the employees) are being given a less than subtle 'hint' to resign.

‘Hands-on’ management is seriously compromising when it does not recognise the areas of skill and knowledge that should be left for the employees to provide. The result of this management style can only be less satisfactory than it should be, with much unhappiness for all involved.

However, when the situation has reached the impasse of confrontation between manipulation and defence, the outcome is usually defeat for both parties, ending in replacement of personnel.

It really doesn’t matter whether the more experienced staff cannot handle the new managerial methods, or the new managers can’t relate to skilled workers, the effect is the same; management is frustrated, and employees feel dehumanised, and disconnected from their work.

The employees will always find themselves disadvantaged in any appeal to higher authorities, controlling or affecting the organisation, who have a vested interest in supporting the managers they have hired. But the actual events which lead to that appeal usually have repercussions for the managers as well, unless the employees decide to step aside gracefully in an effort to not harm the welfare of the organisation...for which they may still have an affection.

And that is something these managers just do not understand. Worse, are the mental contortions that they enlist to dismiss even the best-intended help, such as contained in this essay.

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There is of course some truth in this. But I can dissent a little, too.

Over here, on this side of the world, we have what is called OSHA -- the Occupational Saftey and Health Act, which has been the law of the land since the '70's. It's a vast, far-reaching law that was enacted to improve working conditions for employees. You probably have something similar.

If an employee here is asked to do something he feels isn't safe or would endanger his heath, he has the legal right to complain, and to not obey the directive until the situation has been artibrated by a neutral party and someone in a management positon above the person who gave the order. And no repercussions are permitted against the person who complained. This protects both the worker and the company, and greatly reduces accidents and lawsuits.

Another bone to pick. You say companies back their middle management and will side with them against employees. Well, yes and no. The company is most interested in protecting it's investment in the workplace and continuing it's profitability. If a manager is as inept as the ones you're talking about, inevitably the profitability of his section will suffer. As that happens, he'll be called to task and then replaced. Happens all the time. So an inept manager is not backed the way you seem to feel it happens, at least not in the long run. In the short term, maybe.

I've worked within both systems, with bosses who try to intimidate workers with threats and an atmosphere of fear, and those who are detached enough that they want to issue orders but not get involved in the details, but blame you if things go wrong. Both are incredibly difficult to work under.

I managed for many years. In the latter stages of my career, I'd learned to trust my people and gave them pretty much cate blance on running their own operations. When I began that, profits, efficiency and worker satisfaction all soared. And what was upper management's reaction? They thought I was way too soft on my employees and didn't trust what I was doint at all. They'd come up through the intimidation method, and didn't trust anything else. And to me, that was the worst management system going.

C

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We most certainly do have workplace tribunals to arbitrate under our OHS, but that is useless when the manipulation is a do or die situation in a real time environment like a cinema. There have been instances where management directions were out of the bounds of reason and the staff refused to comply. The staff were fired and the tribunal backed the management.

Worse however, are the manipulations where management has intimidated the staff by removing staff belongings from their lockers and then saying that they know nothing about it. Name calling in front of one other staff member is deniable as one person's word against another. Threats to not continue employment unless a contract is signed that attracts a considerable reduction in pay.

Yearly reviews that are patently nothing more than a chance for management to disparage workers, with impunity.

Then there are those delightful managers who excel at their administrative tasks, but have no people skills whatsoever. Management always side with the those managers/directors.

One such chief administrator destabilised a significant live theatre by ordering stage hands to do each other's work so she could classify them for a lower rate of pay. Having saved the theatre a large amount of money, she then increased her own pay by tens of thousands of dollars. Need I say how low the morale of the theatre staff fell? Need I say that the quality of productions was abysmal?

The MacDonald's model is just not suited to some workplace environments, but it is being taught as part of admin-manager degrees.

When I first encountered this diabolical strategy, I told the union to get me out with as big a package as they could get. The union told me not to do it, that, "Everything will be okay."

I replied, "just do it!"

Two weeks later the federal secretary phoned me and said, "We thought you were crazy. You're not. We'll get you out and then everyone else based on your payout."

Within three months, the company only had one technician left for the whole of Australia. The manager told me that it had cost the company a lot more money than they had thought, because they had expected people to just resign as a result of their workplace intimidation; though he called it workplace restructuring.

Frankly, your last two paragraphs seem to reinforce my criticism of those managers who excel in falling back on authoritarian models when it suits them, despite being nice people at a personal level.

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I delivered the essay to the manager tonight. He refused to read it.

When I explained that I felt professionally obliged to inform him of when he instructed me to put the equipment at risk, he accused me of trying to tell him how to do his job.

So I'm out of work and will have trouble making the next interest payment on the mortgage. No problem, we'll just have to juggle the bills again.

The funny thing is, the tension and the anxiety in my body has gone and I feel great.

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Yes, there is that benefit. When I retired, my blood pressure was 150/95. Three months later it was 130/80. Getting rid of that stress makes a whale of a difference.

My experience tells me as younger people move into the stratospheres of companies, which inevitably they do, things change. Old systems are seen for what the are. Enlightenment often occurs.

There's another factor, actually several, that now come into play that have changed the company/employee relationship at a fundamental level. One is that today's younger employee grew up in the recently accepted parental mode of 'anything goes' where permissiveness and child aggrandizement were the rule of the day. The child of course grew up thinking he was the bees' knees (to use an expression probably only you and I know) and has acted that way all his life. He doesn’t take to the regimentation of his elders. He has to be treated differently or he'll simply go home and live with daddy and mommy.

They really are different. Until you've hired a managed a few, you don’t realize how different they are.

Then too, companies have changed. They used to be large families of workers and managers. A dysfunctional family, surely, but still a family. Today, young people expect to work for many firms before they retire. And they have very little loyalty to any of them because the companies have no loyalty at all to them. This is a completely different dynamic from 30 and 40 years ago. And it effects how they're treated today and how they treat their jobs. Managing in this environment is tricky indeed.

Most companies no longer have pension plans. Ones that did are withdrawing them. Most have done so. They tell the employee it's up to him to save for his retirement. That changes everything.

Your problems sound ridiculous to me. We have systems in place here to deal with that sort of thing. You evidently don't, making life very hard. Fairness in employment, employee rights, safety issues -- these are all mandated by law here, and the company is usually on the defensive and has taken steps to prevent these issues from arising. There are huge monetary fines for breaking these laws, and in many cases managers who break safety laws and force employees to work unsafely not only are fined and usually fired, but go to jail for lengthy periods of time. Really. It happens regularly when these laws are broken. And companies are continually training managers on the laws and how to perform without running afoul of them. Their own penalties are severe enough that they care about doing things right.

These cases are taken before judges, and the judges don't side with the company just because it's the company. They hear both sides and go by the facts. If that isn't the case there, then, wow! You should probably move here.

C

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Cole wrote:

Your problems sound ridiculous to me. We have systems in place here to deal with that sort of thing. You evidently don't, making life very hard. Fairness in employment, employee rights, safety issues -- these are all mandated by law here, and the company is usually on the defensive and has taken steps to prevent these issues from arising. There are huge monetary fines for breaking these laws, and in many cases managers who break safety laws and force employees to work unsafely not only are fined and usually fired, but go to jail for lengthy periods of time. Really. It happens regularly when these laws are broken. And companies are continually training managers on the laws and how to perform without running afoul of them. Their own penalties are severe enough that they care about doing things right.

These cases are taken before judges, and the judges don't side with the company just because it's the company. They hear both sides and go by the facts. If that isn't the case there, then, wow! You should probably move here.

I guess I should have be clearer and not merely mentioned our OHS. OHS stands for Occupational Health and Safety and is the Australian government version of your OHSA. my point is not that it is toothless or useless, it isn't; the point is that the management, when in authoritarian mode, actively makes the staff feel like it isn't worthwhile for them to complain. This is reinforced by the legal process before lawyers and judges being even more intimidating than the managers who are often encouraged by the owners of the business to get away with whatever they can.

I have seen what happens to people who make claims against the company/management, and have been a witness for one women who was mentally abused. She won her case after months of delays (by the company lawyers), and all she received was a token compensation.

Often the judges award against the companies, but the toll of court appearances and cross examination is almost worse than the original workplace intimidation.

Cole, it is very much like the criminal cases where the judiciary will always accept the word of the police rather than believe that the suspect was innocent. The worker is assumed guilty of being a troublemaker, because he wants to abide by the rules. From what I see reported this is common to both the U.S. and Australia.

Finally, the only choice the worker has at the end of combating these sociopathic managers is to resign in such a way that the upper management is forced to resign as well. I've done that twice. It seems that when competent staff resign, then companies fire the sociopathic manager so they can say, "It wasn't us."

I don't have the heart to do it again, to put myself through all that b.s. again. The fact is that certain stress related issues are too much to cope with. The companies know this, and the courts treat them as trivial. If they didn't the system would collapse.

A word on pension plans; as Australia is more socialist then the U.S. we have government mandated pension schemes. The employer must pay an extra 9% of a workers wage into a registered superannuation fund. The worker may also make voluntary contributions. The employers' contribution is not available to the employee until he reaches retirement age. This is in addition to the government age pension to which all Australians are entitled from the retirement age (65 years being transitioned to 67) and paid until death occurs. It is now means tested and one of the 'benefits' of Australian government recognising same sex relationships (as de facto - no same sex marriage here yet) has been to reduce the age pension for same sex couples in line with opposite sex couples.

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Cole wrote:I guess I should have be clearer and not merely mentioned our OHS. OHS stands for Occupational Health and Safety and is the Australian government version of your OHSA. my point is not that it is toothless or useless, it isn't; the point is that the management, when in authoritarian mode, actively makes the staff feel like it isn't worthwhile for them to complain. This is reinforced by the legal process before lawyers and judges being even more intimidating than the managers who are often encouraged by the owners of the business to get away with whatever they can.I have seen what happens to people who make claims against the company/management, and have been a witness for one women who was mentally abused. She won her case after months of delays (by the company lawyers), and all she received was a token compensation.Often the judges award against the companies, but the toll of court appearances and cross examination is almost worse than the original workplace intimidation.

Speaking of safety issues, there is a fundamental difference between the two systems. You have the company fighting the employee with the government in the middle adjudicating. That isn't how it works here. The employee doesn't complain to the company here, he complains to the government, who then does all the investigating on behalf of the employee and metes out fines and notices to the company to change its ways. Any legal battle the ensues is between the government and the company. The employee isn't involved at all.

What generally happens is the employee isn't even the one who complains. There are annual inspections of workplaces by OHSA employees. During the inspections they personally observe working condition, safety procedures, rest break lengths, electrical wiring, just everything under the sun. The inspections can take a few hours or a week or more depending on the size of the facility and the number of inspectors involved. During the inspections the inspectors have the right to talk to any worker they wish to, and the workers have the right to ask to speak to an inspector. This allows complaints to be voiced, and notification to the inspectors of unsafe equipment or procedures at the facility.

In the past 40 years, workplace safety has been dramatically improved. Some plants that wouldn't come into compliance have been shut down entirely. The act works here.

Unions have gone a long way to improve worker/employee relations. Sometimes, too many times in my opinion, the unions and the companies are confrontational, and less is achieved in those instances. But more and more, everyone realizes they can work together for both their benefits, and in those cases, working condition do improve, and working harmony is enhanced.

There will always be battles between management and the work force, and it's especially true when managers are ill-trained, are smug and arrogant, are nepotistic, are a whole lot of other things. Companies seems too slow on the whole to weed those men and women out. But in general, they do get found, and booted.

B

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I'm doing a bad job of explaining the similarity of our two systems. Ours works much the same here as yours. The employee can attempt to talk with the employer, or the union, who will act on his behalf, or they can report the manager/ employer to the government.

The system is not the issue, however. what is the issue is the way the sociopath managers, ridicule and bully the staff, in ways that are very difficult to prove. True it can be done, but it takes time to set up a case and the stress and anxiety from participating in such a case, (being accused of lying and fabricating evidence by the company lawyers) is not something I would wish on any worker, or want to go through again, especially at my age. Think in terms of the messenger being shot; the victim being the guilty party.

Or perhaps the complainant is not called as a witness in the U.S.?

I have been told that I, "will never work in the industry again." Twice. Obviously they were wrong, but the threat is itself demeaning.

Judging from the the lack of compassion I see in the conservative right wing of the religious fanatic politics, which are so influential in choosing sociopaths as managers, I doubt that there are many people who escape torment and despair, even when a decision goes in their favour.

I'm fed up with the system here, and I don't see the U.S. one, as being much different, or better.

I do appreciate your concern, Cole.

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And I feel for you. I worked in industry for over 40 years, for several companies. I had many bosses. Some were competent; many were not. Of the many, I can honestly say I liked working for less than five in all that time.

So believe me, I understand your rant. I lived it. It's one of the reasons I so wanted to get out. My last boss was certainly competent. He had some skills. He also was very much a company man who would do what he could to rise up the ladder, and if that meant people under him weren't treated as well as they should have been, so be it. His first concern was himself.

You do learn to survive in whatever system you're in, until it becomes unbearable. That seems to have happened to you, and it did to me, twice. Both time I got fed up and simply left the job. In today's job climate, that's more difficult to do, and as you get older it's more difficult to do. It's too bad when you have to balance your sanity and personal integrity against a pay check. But it does come to that, doesn't it?

C

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Thank you Cole, it does indeed come to that. Twice is bad enough, After three, I had to wonder if it was me. After four, I had to use all my patience to give the manager every opportunity to not be the sociopath he eventually revealed himself to be.

I am the fourth person to have left the organisation in the last six months, because of him, that I know about. There were others but I don't know just how many, or why they actually resigned.

Was I targeted to make me resign? No I don't think so; my guess is that he had misinterpreted professional advice and proceeded to assert his authority by accusing me of non-cooperation. This is where it got too vague to counter. If he had accused me of not complying with a lawful order then I could have shown that was not the case, but it isn't possible to respond to him misconstruing the reason for proffering advice, and totally ignoring the good intentions with which it was made. The situation was outside the boundaries of his experience, his expertise, and I can only conclude without him having the requisite ability to listen to relative information without thinking he was being confronted. In simple terms he would shoot any messenger before the message was understood.

What I do know is, that his reaction of refusing to listen and needlessly asserting his authority made the situation intolerable. I feel a lot better, even if poorer.

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In the span of 4 or 5 years, my employer, a government-run non-profit organization and healthcare provider for the under-served population of the entire state of Minnesota, in the interest of viability underwent a radical change of governance to become what was, essentially, a non-profit healthcare provider to the under-served population of a single, albeit large, county, that for all other purposes adopted the business model and practices of private corporations all across America. And before the dust settled organizationally, I would see 2 new Lab Directors, 3 new managers, 5 supervisory changes and enough rearrangement of instrumentation and work space to keep me moving in circles forever.

Staff changes, benefit changes, rules, regulations, inspections, hospital evaluation surveys, lab safety, inventory, environment surveys, regulatory changes, procedural changes, all contributed to a general feeling of chaos and dissatisfaction, amidst an administrative model that solicited more opinions than it could possibly accommodate and at the end of the day, ignore them all.

Many of my coworkers had never worked anywhere else, and being less surprised meant listening to the indignation and sense of entitlement that government jobs are said to foster. Surviving the day on the good side of satisfied was my new measure of success.

Solutions are great, but sometimes being reminded that we are not alone in our experience of even the most complicated circumstances is all the relief the moment requires. Take comfort where you find it. (Wasn;t that a song, like a hundred years ago? Bread if I'm not mistaken...)

As usual, I found this looking for something else...I don't remember what it was now, and look what I got instead! Thanks Des, Cole, Princes if ever there was.

Tracy

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Thanks Tracy, the whole situation is now irrelevant. Times have changed and the cinema has converted to digital projection which means that the (film) projectionist is no longer required. The skilled projectionists' position is now filled by a 'duty officer'.

So I would have been unemployed by now anyway.

It seems strange and not without some sense of nostalgia to think that the job I did for over 45 years, no longer exists. Like so many skilled crafts, the work that my brother projectionists and I performed, in the service of entertaining the masses, has been replaced by a machine without any awareness of the craftsmanship, and the showmanship that made a carnival side-show into an artistic and profoundly legitimate, entertainment event.

I guess I feel very lucky to have been involved in the best years of the art form. The worst years are not worth remembering except to note that, all things must pass. If I had a guitar it would indeed be gently weeping.

On the brighter side of my life, I am happy to announce that our poverty is at an end. I\ll explain more once the deal is finalised. Prepare ye all, for some new stories from pen (keyboard) just as soon as the dust settles. Stress, and anxiety are creativity killers, but also in a strange way, eventually feed the muses.

So I am not claiming that "it gets better." My life experience teaches me that "it gets worthwhile."

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Optimism is the expectation of all things, Des, and the distinction in your closing comment is nothing short of revolution- a shift of perspective that accepts life as it is and makes the best of it. (Picture me clapping my hands and jumping up and down) <g>

"Progress" is by nature, collective; it is the future of the present with the essence of the past in its bones, a response to desire, not subject to it.

What we have is "forward movement"; clearly, the rate of loss is unsustainable and the story of your loss brought that home to me tonight, and with it a thousand species, a jumble of numbers held at bay. I'd call that worthwhile, and hope you will, too.

Tracy

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