The First Book of Management

Chapter 6 - Destruction

Someone told me once that “The only defence against bad management is to cease to care”. This is usually true, but for some reason we still did care about the technical side of the job, and we still tried to do a good job, even though our efforts only made even more money for Stan.

This was why it was particularly galling when he summoned me to his office and said that I wasn’t earning my keep - “I pay you a lot of money and you’re not giving me good enough value”.
This was one of many attacks. Some days he would get you in and tell you that you were unpopular with the other managers, that you had been tactless and upsetting them and that you needed to improve your management style. He wouldn’t reveal his sources though.  

One day he told me that times were hard and that we needed to get rid of one of my three Shift Managers. I had to choose which one and then “Ferk them off” (this was his term for getting rid of someone). I went out of his office dreading the coming days. Should I choose Frank, the older man with the experience (who was prone to being negative but was often right) or should I choose Steve, the young lad with good ideas and lots of enthusiasm? Which one would you have chosen? Refusing to do it wasn’t an option. Not with a house and family to support. I chose to get rid of Frank, and I got him in the office and gave him his marching orders. He was stunned. I knew he would never get another job at his age, but it was him or me. What had I become? What had Stan made me into? Would I end up like Stan eventually?

Later Stan got me into his office and told me that I had made the wrong choice getting rid of Frank, and that I should have chosen Steve. “Get rid of Steve as well” he said. So I did. It was that or resign. We ran the factory without proper management during the shift hours from then on, and this cost us a fortune in mistakes and bad decisions and lack of organisation.

Once Stan told me that whenever he went past Paul Lazlo he could see that Paul was never doing any work. “Ferk him off” he said. Paul was one of my best people, and was probably thinking at the time – a rare and valuable activity that unfortunately doesn’t look as impressive as taking frantic action like a headless chicken. What could I do? I hoped Stan would forget, and he did for a while, but then a couple of months later he suddenly said “I thought I told you to ferk that Lazlo bloke off??”. I continued to play for time as long as I worked for Stan, and I never did get rid of Paul. I believe he still works there. I feel sorry for him!

Anyway, this time it’s me that’s under attack, for “Not earning my keep”. Not being good enough value. A bit annoying when your boss criticises you for any decisions that you do make, and then criticises you for not doing enough. Doing anything with him around was an achievement.  

What would you have said or done in this situation?

(Remember the wife and kids and house…)  

My response was to say that I would be back the next day with the proof that I was worth it.

I made a list of all the improvements and savings I had made in my area over the last year. The list came to £400,000.

His response? I thought maybe “Sorry” or “Not bad!” but I never expected him to say what he did say: “Those improvements would have happened anyway”.

I know what you’re thinking. “I’d never do that”. But it’s so easy to criticise people in smaller ways than Stan did. Every time you criticise someone you are trampling on a part of their world. They will gradually do less and less, eventually ceasing to care and doing nothing useful at all.  

It is so much more effective to catch them doing something right. Then they’ll do more of the good things, and care more and more.

Next Page
Chapter 1   - The Captain Of The Ship
Chapter 2   - Wandering About
Chapter 3   – Difficult Jack
Chapter 4   - Dr. Evil
Chapter 5   - Knowledge is Power
Chapter 6   - Destruction
Chapter 7   - A real friend
Chapter 8   - Teams from Hell
Chapter 9   - Dangerous Roy
Chapter 10 - Bob vs. Bob
Chapter 11 - Own Goals