“Management From Hell”

A week ago I sat in a gathering of young and seasoned minds, all working in the communication field. Most were in Public Relations,it was a PR meet, greet and mentor. So many different areas of the field was represented. Some were in Crisis Management, Brand management, many employed by global agencies and much more. A small group of us sat and discussed issues such as the latest fall from grace in the world of media and corporate culture, I found myself intrigued. I missed that world… I missed academia… I had missed sitting amongst great thinkers and dreamers and creators. I felt normal as if I was in my element. I went home and started thinking about the past 3 years of my life. Had I learned anything? Indeed I did. I must admit I had forgotten how to be observant and how to think critically.

Communication: The text books will tell you that, communication is not a one or two directional thing, it’s cyclical. What I have found to the point of utter frustration, is that there are far too many holes in lines of communication. Many of which start with one person not liking their counterparts. Unfortunately, this is also counterproductive, because the staff is often confused as to whom to go to for help. Adding to that, is getting two different answers for the managers. The very same managers that demand that you communicate with them, with clarity. Even more damaging is when that poor information sharing doesn’t make it to your boss’s meeting… and somehow it’s someone else’s fault. Was it not his or her job to check on the progress long before the meeting?

Management: Nothing frustrates me more than poor or bad management. In fact, it frustrates and destroys the work environment, poisoning the staff that is supposed to be guided or trained a new skill. What does it mean for the future of that agency or company? You be the judge…

Organizational Culture: This is a system, if you will, of beliefs, values and mindset that governs the people of the organization. It’s the reason why they dress the way they do. The culture dictates, how people act, interact and do their jobs. It’s a reproduction factory.

The Leaders from the pit:

Manager A: The Exo, the Tyrant commander. Shortly before Christmas this manager, displeased with something begins yelling at the top of their lungs. Cursing and berating the department’s head in front of the entire department. It wasn’t long before the Exo turned and went after the rest of the staff. Hovering over them, demanding that the promptly answer her! The staff scrambled to their prospective keyboards. Each one pulling up something on their screens, to prove the worth of their lowly existence. One stuttered out of fear, when explaining the project to the Tyrant commander. The “leader” went around the room barking out “what are working on!” No one deared to challenge this behavior. Unfortunately this is common place.

Manager B: A department head, a Tumbleweed leader. This one like it’s codename, seems to just muddle along the road of leadership. Uncertain about the staff’s strengths or weaknesses. Lacking the ability to teach, train or inspire the staff to greatness. This manager is also known for yelling. The Tumbleweed is also disliked by staff, other managers and the brass. The department, functions in a perpetual state of flux. The manager’s own insecurity is projected on to and leaks from the pores of the staff.

Manager C: This is a team of Supervisors, Absentee parents. The pair have about 30 staff they’re responsible for training. It’s a customer service department, so it’s not rocket science. However, the staff is divided and often times fight amongst themselves, much like siblings. This is fitting, since the department is run like a junior high school classroom with a loud teacher who’s always yelling at their students to “keep it down”. The “supervisors” lack supervisory skills, were never taught how to manage people, don’t like each other, don’t communicate with each and are known for back biting. More than likely… were never handed a single book on management. The poor management has given birth to disengaged staff. It’s the same phenomenon that happens when parents are missing from their children’s lives.

Manager D: Apathetic Leadership, this is truly a sad state. This manager has probably been in their position for far too long. He has seen it all, the corruption, the abuse of power and of staff but does nothing to change the system or circumstance. When questioned about the ongoing abuse and berating of a staff member. The manager’s response was “I know”. And claimed nothing could be done because the person wasn’t under his direct management. Truly sad that, that young man had to endure years of abuse! Thankfully, his tormentor, after about 10 years, was fired. No thanks to the Apathetic Leader.

Manager E: The Stalworth, this individual is not the manager but by all accounts should be. This is the “go to guy”, he knows where everything is, where the bodies are buried, he is the phantom manager. When Tumbleweed needs something done, the Stalworth gets in done. When the Tyrant commander wants answers… the Stalworth is thrown under the truck and served up on a platter by the Tumbleweed….

It has been my displeasure to witness these managers first-hand. Would you believe they all work in the same agency?

Over 20 years ago I heard a pastor peach a sermon on Genesis 30:25-31:16. If you’re not familiar with the story, fear not, I’ll explain it, but I want you CEOs and managers to truly listen. Jacob’s father-in-law tried to cheat him. After many deals to win his daughter’s hand. Jacob made a deal, give him the spotted sheep. In his brilliance he took reeds and laid them in the water in front of the spotted sheep. The water was speckled and drew the spotted sheep and they multiplied exponentially. The pastor said that, what you put before the congregation is what your church will be… sounds familiar?

From the top, down, your company’s or agency’s culture will reflect you. In the above case, the organizational culture is one of fear, stress and intimidation. It is a highly toxic atmosphere. The leadership demands better performance but fails to lead by example. They fail to serve, to teach and to train. The results, is not only a culture of fear, but massive mistakes.

It is not too late for a change in your organization or in the above one. But it means seriously restructuring things, including firing key people if need be. Well, if you want a success story that is…

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