Employees are crazy too
Bosses aren't the only looneys in the workplace. Fortune's Stanley Bing outlines six things employees do that drive their employers nuts.
(Fortune Magazine) -- In the previous issue of this magazine there was a tasty excerpt from my new book, "Crazy Bosses," which investigates the irrationality of executives and offers some solutions to their care and feeding. When I consider this matter, which possibly afflicts everyone on the planet who does not work for Warren Buffett, I find a tiny grain of sand in the oyster of my self-possession. In this small space I will attempt to transform that morsel of agitation into a pearl of wisdom.
The problem is this: For years I have been considering the bad behavior of people in positions of authority. This is not only fun but also exorcises the anger, frustration and hurt feelings that roil within each of us against our boss at one point or another. While doing so, however, I may have turned a blind eye to one of the most important causes of managerial madness: the crazy employee.
Because we are nuts, you know, we who work for those who go insane above us. We're crazy and incompetent and lazy and churlish and occasionally stupid and cowardly and disloyal. And it's time we all sucked it up and stopped blaming our bosses for everything.
In this new spirit of fairness, I'm going to offer six things employees do that drive their bosses to a place whence there is no public transportation:
1. We don't listen. You, the boss, tell a guy to do something. He nods like a bobble-head doll. He goes off, comes back in a couple of hours with a sack of potatoes, and puts it on your desk. "What's this?" you ask. "I asked for the numbers on second-quarter pacing." He looks at you dubiously. "I was sure you asked for a mound of potatoes," he says. You kick him out, close the door and wonder whether life is worth living. You decide it's not.
2. We show up late. It's 7 A.M. You have to put the quarterly report on the wire in half an hour, and you've instructed your entire staff to be in at 6:45. Everybody is there ... except Nat, the guy in charge of formatting and printing the information, which must be on the chairman's desk for his review by 7:15. Where the frig is Nat? By 7:12, you are pacing up and down the hallway, smoke coming out of your nose. At 7:21, with the chairman barking for his biscuits, Nat rushes in, face flushed. His dog got sick or something. You have a choice. You can (a) scream at him until your head flies off your neck, or (b) sit in your office and eat what's left of your own stomach while Nat does his thing. You do (b), then later (a). And everybody thinks you're a meanie.
3. We leave early. Now it's 5:45 P.M. Big Bob has called you upstairs for a full briefing on the Barfinger situation. You run down the hall to talk with Lattimore, who has the rationale that your department prepared for just such a briefing. His door is closed. "Where's Lattimore?" you inquire. "He had a squash game," says his assistant, who sometimes forgets who works for whom. You consider whether to (a) collapse on the floor and squeal like a stuck pig or (b) suck it up and fake your way through your meeting with Big Bob. You choose the latter. Big Bob isn't fooled, and you get yelled at, after which you go home and drink too much.
4. We squabble. Do you, the boss, really need to know that Dworkin thinks Vreeland is a weasel? Or vice versa? You don't really care who's wrong or right. You just want us to play nice and make you look good.
5. We need to be loved. What a bunch of babies we are! Are you supposed to notice every time we stand in your doorway with a sheepish expression, begging for a little stroking when you're up to your assets in alligators? You're emotionally stunted to begin with! That's why you were promoted to senior management!
6. We leave. You spend years cultivating your staff. You give your time and soul to develop us and groom us, you treat us like golden children, give us money and stock options and platinum credit cards ... and then one day we come into the office and tell you we are going. It doesn't matter where. We are departing and leaving you alone, hanging out, even possibly responsible for doing the work yourself.
And people wonder why bosses are crazy. Hey, it's a wonder you're as sane as you are. If, you know, you are. Sane, that is.
Anyhow, you look darn good for someone who's justifiably out of his mind!
Stanley Bing's new book, "Crazy Bosses" (Collins), is available at finer bookstores everywhere. He can be reached at email@example.com and on his Web site, stanleybing.com.
From the June 11, 2007 issue
Ask Stanley Bing
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