Archive | September, 2010

Manager From Hell #3

29 Sep

Imagine what a delightful workplace this must have been:

“I had the “pleasure” of working for marketing agency whose owner saw fit to impose the following official (and unofficial) rules on a group of highly skilled, salaried, college-grad employees:

1. Be at your desk by or before 8:00. Your computer must be on, email open, and coffee/bagel in hand. Construction, weather and/or death is no excuse.

2. You get a 1/2 hour for lunch, and you have to take it between 12 and 1:00.

3. Afternoon break is from 3:15 to 3:45. You may not remain at your desk.

4. Dailies: You must send a detailed email at the end of every day summarizing you worked on. Never send before 5:00 or you will come under scrutiny.

5. Try not to leave before 5:10. The later you stay, the better.

6. Each employee has a chore (trash, dishwasher, etc). You can’t trade chores with anyone else w/o prior approval.

7. No cell phones in the building – please keep in your car.  Personal calls need manager approval.

8. Vacation/Flex Time: You get 5 days vacation/flex/sick time a year for your first 2 years. Adding vacation days to holiday weekends is prohibited. No overseas travel. (Yes, this is true!)

9. Non work-related use of your computer is prohibited. Your computer is monitored and you could be questioned about usage. Even checking email on your break is grounds for dismissal.

10. Don’t call in sick. If you do, fax a statement from your doctor. Ideally, you should come in to work for inspection to determine if you are actually sick before you’re allowed to go home.

11. Doctor’s visits MUST be before 9:00 am or after 4:00 pm.

There’s MORE! Much more awful things past 300 words. You don’t want to know…”

Let’s take a break from MFH and take a look at happiness next week

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Five Things To Know for the Game of Life

22 Sep

A key finding in the understanding of leadership is  leadership development as a personal journey of self-discovery and self-improvement.  A second is leaders tend to be very well informed in a strategic and global sense.  Both of these are simple ideas, but hard to accomplish.  Recently in the Business Section of the NY Times there was an excellent article addressing the latter type of development: “A course load for the game of life.” A fine read, check it out.  Food for thought.

Tune in next week for episode #3 of MFH (Manager From Hell)

–         and you thought your boss was pretty bad.

Always looking for more MFH stories,  posted anonymous of course.

The quote “Managers…….” is Peter Drucker, some say he invented management (he wrote the first text on the topic).

Manager From Hell #2

15 Sep

First response to MFH invitation:

I had one manager that truly was the definition of “manager from hell”. The best example of his efforts was the day I received a promotion – sort of.  There had been a very major re-organization and I had ended up with double the responsibility and a vague promise of compensation to follow. About two weeks later, he came to my office and made this huge show of thanking me for my efforts and explaining how important I was to the organization.  Then he gave me a promotion to reflect my new responsibilities and role.  The catch was is was a promotion on paper only, no compensation change and “oh by the way, we can’t actually tell anyone that this has happened.”  He then launched into a long monologue about how strong he thought our relationship was; how much he valued my efforts and a great deal of focus on my family and how close he felt to them and how much he had always focused on helping them out.  Of course it was a little difficult to have the discussion because I wasn’t sure whom he was talking about at first because he had their names wrong.  It did finally dawn on me that he thought the three names he was tossing around were my wife and children.

Tell us your “manager from hell” story.

Send them to my email, to assure that your identity will remain confidential.

To set up an RSS (really simple syndication) feed to make Managers Into Leaders appear in your email every week:

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An Invitation To the “Manager From Hell” Series

8 Sep

Those of you who have read Beyond Luck know that the first article describes the “manager from hell.”  I have been impressed by how many people I have worked with either changed jobs, made a career change, started a company or in some way altered their work-lives because they had such a manager.  I left an organization I loved and thought I would always be at because of such a boss.  So, I invite you to send me no more than 300 words on your manger from hell and I will publish them.  Perhaps we can learn from these stories. Here is a pump primer.

“In a large public sector organization, my unit was transferred to a new manager because of a legislative mandate.  The eight of us had been together some time and had a fine culture.  We begin to notice almost immediately that the place was very quiet and people came and went exactly on time.  With some grant money we decided to re-model our work-space.  We worked with the organization’s architect and building department and put together a detailed several-page plan.  I presented it to our new manager, he rejected it out of hand and began to make war on us.  After some time we understood that he was the giant and the rest of us were pygmies – the ultimate micro-manager.  The most curious result of this management style was the bathrooms, it was a former hospital and all were single-stools, were always in use.  It took some time to realize people were hiding out, it was the only place people were safe because the door was locked. We never saw this manager being abusive, but the level of fear was very high.  When people realized we were on his hit list they pretty much stayed away from us. Going to work in the morning was unpleasant and our productivity crashed.  Within 18 months all of us were gone and the program collapsed.  The silver lining was I started my business.  Other of my former colleagues did not fare so well.”

Tell us your “manager from hell” story.

Send your stories to my email,, titled “hell” and I will assure they are posted anonymously.

Hiring For Attitude

1 Sep

Last week I had lunch with an entrepreneur who is on his seventh company and he hopes that he has finally gotten it right. After hearing his description of the workplace, my first question was: How do you hire people?  The answer was stunning: “We all do it”.  How?

It started during their weekly all-employee meeting.  The owner noted that a recently fired person never really “fit” and asked “Did anyone suspect this would happen even when she was first hired?”  Everyone said yes. So they discussed all lost employees from past years and, “Surprise!” There were no surprises. They all intuitively knew the outcomes from the beginning.”

They now begin their hiring process with resumes and applications.  Then a group (about 4) of the future employee’s co-workers decide whom to interview.  In the first 5 seconds of each face-to-face one-on-one interview, relying solely on intuition, each employee assigns the candidate a Green, Yellow or Red light.  A rating system of 1 – 5 is used to register candidate suitability for skills and other factors.  If a candidate receives a Red light or low numbers, they will not be invited to return for a second round of interviews.  All who pass the first round with high numbers are invited to return for interviews with 12 additional employees from throughout the company.  Assuming no Red lights, the final decision is made by numbers and employee consensus.

They have been using this system for three years and have made no bad hires.  He describes his workforce as superb.

What you think?  Please comment.