Telling the truth about SME life today

Exposed: senior managers

At the upper echelons of the corporate hierarchy are the senior managers, most of whom are of the age where they are applauded after they tell you how old they are. If senior managers were furniture they would be antiques, which is why they cost so much.

Senior managers tend to sport nicknames without their knowing, such as Uncle Hank or Papa Steve. This goes alongside their already cumbersome job titles, which you can bet include the words “group’” or “head.”

Senior managers can supposedly do things like build teams, remove obstacles and a thousand other nothing phrases. It’s all bunkum. All senior managers really have is the ability to convince other people they deserve to be senior managers. The best way to do that is by not saying anything stupid. Lincoln famously said it’s “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Sound advice for would-be CEOs and presidents alike.

Once you’ve made it to the top, you have to keep the rouse going. Take credit for anything that works out well in the company and blame poor performance on previous managers, extraneous circumstances and market forces. It’s simple really. Rising stock prices” Visionary initiatives. Falling stock prices” Externalities. Tricks like these allow incompetent and crooked managers to stay in power for years on end.

How else can you explain CEOs like Ken Lay (Enron, massive crook), Chuck Conway (Kmart, another fraudster) and Bernie Ebbers (WorldCom, yep you guessed it – fraud)?

If money is the root of all evil then senior managers have deep roots. Some senior managers can be decidedly cranky or mean. When explaining a proposal to a senior manager, I outlined some basic facts that he disagreed with. He didn’t want to change any of his well-ingrained habits, which was a shame because his process wasn’t working very well anymore. Suffice to say we didn’t get off to a good start; five minutes into the meeting he turned and said “I’ve been doing this for 20 years.” Why didn’t he think of this, then?

Aside from the crankiness and gossip the last distinguishing feature of senior managers is their inability to remember anyone’s name (or more specifically my name). Of course you know their name, everyone does.

“Good night Mr. Johnson.”

“Good night Rishi.”

Where the hell did you get Rishi from” What part of me looks even vaguely Indian” I mean Rishi, of all names, why Rishi?

“Good morning Rishi.”

“Good morning Mr. Johnson.”


Read more from Workforced here.

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