Friday, September 5, 2008

More Münchhausen Management

I ran an excerpt from my one-and-only self-help book in progress here, so perhaps it's time for a little more.

How Bad Managers Make Themselves Look Good By Making You Look Bad
© 2008 Paul Kupperberg

Chapter 15/ "But do you love it? I want you to love it!"

Your boss tells you to change something.

You argue against the change with any number of well-thought out and relevant arguments based on your intimate knowledge of a project that this boss knows in only the most general terms.

He counters by repeating what he said originally.

You reply with a recap of your previous arguments, plus a few others, newly conjured up in desperation.

He proposes that you do what he says.

You say you really don't think it's the best idea.

He says, "Do it!"

And proceeds to tell you why you should do it. Aside, of course, from the fact that he's your boss and he's just told you to. And as he speaks, he warms to his subject. You've challenged him, questioned his obvious superiority in stature and knowledge and now he's determined to prove to you that he's right.

He's not. Doesn't matter what his title is, he's wrong.

But he's your boss.

So you hear him out and, at the first break in the rationalizations, you say, "Okay. Got it. Will do."

But that's no longer enough. If you had agreed with him at the very start, this wouldn't happen, but your questioning his wisdom is a stab at his ego—a fragile one, please remember, and one wracked by the daily stress of corporate fear—and now he has to be vindicated. Now he needs complete capitulation.

"But," he asks, leaning forward and fixing you with a look that can only mean trouble, "do you love it? I want you to love it!"

You don't love it.

You can't love it because it's
(a) stupid,
(b) wrong,
(c) really stupid, or
(d) all of the above.

You couldn't love his idea if it had rich parents and offered to marry you and buy you a pretty house on the beach.

"It's fine," you say, glancing at the door and fervently wishing you were on the other side of it. "I'll do it."

"But do you love it?"



Ultimately, you'll have to find a way to say that you do love it that satisfies your boss's need to not only be right but to be really right (which comes with the side benefit of being really humiliating for you) but that doesn't make you feel like a total whore.

But like a good whore, you're just faking it, to get it over with, collect your money and get out of that room.


rob! said...

"But like a good whore, you're just faking it, to get it over with, collect your money and get out of that room."

Tex Blaisdell once described what commercial artists do, using almost those exact same words.

Paul Kupperberg said...

I always knew there was a reason I liked Tex! :)