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You don’t get past The Management
My local pub just put up this sign. Classic retro business stuff. It’s like a work version of those “hygienically sealed for your protection” toilet tapes in motels.
It goes to the heart of an ancient belief: the idea that everyone – even customers – should bow down to “Management”.
Which isn’t such a helpful mindset in 2023.
At least it didn’t use the formal, definite-article version: By Order, The Management.
We live about a block from that pub and spend a fair bit of money there. It’s like our spare kitchen.
I’m not sure I want to go there and have Bob from Management post decrees at me like the Sheriff of Nottingham.
That sign needs more
Let’s think about how that sign came to be. Perhaps it was an item in a meeting. You want people not to go through that door. That calls for a sign. NO ENTRY. Makes perfect sense. The THANK YOU is nice. Hospitable.
At this point I’m more than happy to not go in there. As a believer in the Chesterton’s Fence rule, I’m sure there’s a good reason behind that sign.
But wait, someone says. It’s not authoritative enough. It needs something that will make people obey without question. It needs:
Boom. That will correct all the aberrant behaviour of foolish customers and workers who have been told the rules, yet for some reason don’t submit to them.
Because who doesn’t respect Management?
Rules are rules
Capital M Management is different to the regular type. It’s the sort that gets off on rules and enforcement. Not just management, but full Proper Noun Title, Appointed To Be The Boss Of You.
Management loves a laminated sign, with powerful parental energy.
Wash your hands. Your mother does’nt work here so please don’t leave youre mugs in the sink. And so on.
Management are the sort of people who work toward committee positions at golf clubs, so they can put up notices to enforce correct sock colour and length.
It you work under Management, it’s like being led by a council parking ticket inspector.
Like they want you to infringe so they can feel the small tingle of exerting power.
Staff member: “I was only trying to do something good for a customer.”
Manager: (points to sign, continues to write ticket). “Rules are rules.”
An expensive way to run things
It’s such a grim way to lead your working life.
Pushing people around with your managerial power is self-defeating in modern times, where anyone good doesn’t have to accept jobs they hate.
If you believe the only reason you need to make people do something is “because I said so”, you will remain a burden to your organisation.
Apart from, you know, being a dick, it’s an expensive, time-consuming way to run things.
So much more supervising, checking, chasing up, having to plug gaps because nobody thinks beyond their job description. The extra recruitment and training costs from the staff churn caused by you.
Put your list and signs away
I used to work with an Ultimate Management manager. She had an ongoing to-do list for all the staff. Everyone got called in for individual weekly meetings, which ran like this.
Manager: Item 13, get quotes for new potplant maintenance supplier. Have you done that?
M: (Frustrated tone) Why not?
Repeat loop for maybe 30 items. And on to the next staff member. My God it just killed everyone’s will to live.
The art of making people want to do things is a lifelong project, but you can pick up 80% of the basics in a year.
You already knew that.
Management doesn’t read this blog. Not enough time, those signs aren’t going to put themselves up.
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