Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Was Rodney Dangerfield a Manager?

I saw a study that said a great majority (71 percent of 972 workers surveyed) would not like to be the boss, and not only did they not want to be in charge, they didn’t think they could do a better job than the boss.

That seems odd, considering the number of “bad boss” books on the market today. We have books saying that bosses are crazy, raised by wolves, micromanaging ogres and in short, the most horrible two-legged creatures on the face of the planet.

OK, so maybe that’s just used to sell books. The truth is that some bosses are good, and some are not so good. But before we claim they should be dropped into abandoned mines, let’s consider what they do every day.

They put up with employees who smell and look like they slept at the bottom of a laundry basket. They have to referee spats between co-workers arguing over who left the dirty dishes in the sink. They have workers who don’t show up for work because, well, because it’s a nice day and they don’t feel like working. They put in many hours at home after their families go to sleep because they can’t get any work done in the office with all the constant interruptions from their staff.

Their own bosses demand constant reports, insist that budgets be cut without affecting production and order that their lips be sealed regarding potential layoffs.

They are, in other words, constantly between a rock and a hard place. Their loyalty and energy are constantly being divided between the employees they oversee and the senior managers. Little respect or consideration is offered from anyone for what they go through every day.

Yeah, who wouldn’t want that job?

That’s why Wayne Turmel (a.k.a. The Cranky Middle Manager) speaks up for middle managers, offering them sound advice – coupled with humor – to help them keep going. He notes that while companies offer little or no training dollars to those in middle management, it’s not always a bad job.

He’s right. Many managers talk about the sense of satisfaction they get from coaching employees, helping them improve their skills and reach their goals. They like being the kind of leader that inspires; they even enjoy providing pizza on a Friday afternoon to recognize good work.

So, the next time you’re quick to dump on your manager, take a moment and consider what it’s like to stand in his shoes. Maybe it’s a job you don’t want, but that’s no reason to make it a job he doesn’t want, either.

If you are in management, a couple of places you might want to check out for further support and education include:


Anonymous said...

Anita, thanks to Jason Alba, I've just discovered your awesome blog and have linked up to it from my two blogs at and This is a fantastic post, and one that is sorely needed. Middle management is a tough position to be in, and most people don't appreciate it until they get there. In my consulting work with twenty-something employees, I encourage them to think about work from their boss' perspective, and try to determine ways they can make that person's life easier and make her look good to HER boss. I also tell them they shouldn't be in such a hurry to get to the top because the immense responsibilities associated with being a boss far outweight the perks.

Alexandra Levit
Author, They Don't Teach Corporate in College
Blogger, Water Cooler Wisdom

Anonymous said...

Anita, thanks for the support (and the plug for The Cranky Middle Manager Show podcast).

After 102 episodes, we are still talking to some of the smartest people in the management business about how to survive middle management- where you're stuck between the idiots who make the decisions and the morons who won't do as their told.

By the way, if you check out
you'll hear an interview with a certain woman convinced we drive our bosses crazy.

Much thanks for your brilliance on the show as well as helping spread the word.