Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Small Person Behaviour

I'm not saying that a small brain is a prerequisite for making a corporate career, that would be shooting my self in the foot. But, observing some of my VP colleagues I cannot stop wondering what piece they're missing.

It's not that they're unintelligent. I most cases their IQ would be worthy of a chess grand master.

It's not that they're socially dysfunctional. Hmm, well at least not completely. Most VPs don't look very becoming in jeans for instance. Don't know why ...

But when cornered and in times of change, the majority of senior managers show off the same three features:

  • Complete lack of coherent communication. For example, the only information you can expect to get is what you already knew. The reason is simple: they think that if you tell the truth people will obstruct, which we all know is nonsense. I admit I do the same thing, it has become an automatic behaviour. If you haven't said anything you become less vulnerable. And complaints about lack of communication only show up in employee surveys a year later. And we all know about how seriously they are taken.
  • Blaming others. Especially other VPs and their organizations. It's very much like a beauty contest with only ugly people. You need to make the others look uglier. It's fascinating how things can go from good to bad in just one day. Just to give you a flavour, I got an e-mail from a VP praising my organization dated one day before a complete slashing. The interesting thing is that the praise was given to me privately but the slashing had a larger audience. Which brings me to the next point.
  • cc:lists from hell. Oh, the wonders of cc:lists! Not only do all cc:mail clutter up your mailbox with things you don't want to know about. cc: is a lethal weapon! A very common tactic to get an upper hand is to criticize someone putting some of the officers of the company on copy. It creates the illusion that a problem has been around for a while and is now being escalated. Not only that, you can't respond without appearing to be defensive and cluttering up the mailbox of others. So the initiator has shown the rest of the company that he's taking responsibility to set things straight. And you get blamed for inactivity, lack of quality, etc without the means to retaliate.

Trying to appear bigger than you are is the nucleus of the small person behaviour syndrome, in short Small Person BS. The result of their actions is always Corporate BS.

But it is actually worse. Your future is decided when VP is in this state of mind.


Ted said...

I hate email at work. I would much rather have someone tell me something to my face than hiding behind their computer screen.

Look at how much trouble our elected officials get into with their email..

Give me face to face contact anytime.

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Anonymous said...

I really love the note:

Great minds discuss ideas.
Average minds discuss events.
Small minds discuss people.

Guess where VPs land.

GrownupinaCompanyofChildren said...

I read perhaps 1 email in 20 without deleting first.

What really gets me, and happens *all the time* at my old company, is when someone emails you out of the blue about a minor issue/correction that needs to be done, but cc:'s both your bosses. That was usually a mistake on that person's part - I answered the person as honestly and candidly as I would have were the exchange between just the two of us. My boss knew that's how I was, and even if she didn't, I wasn't going to pretend the initiator of the exchange wasn't an immature doofus who was ralphing his ego out of his mouth and trying to make me look bad for peanuts. Not to mention how asinine/inconsiderate this person was, unnecessarily filling up inboxes.I'm an adult, and I do not tolerate grade-school antics (like that company's environment encouraged).