You don't like me and I don't care

I have heard this said a few times, by a leader of the council convinced that further management post could be cut from the organisation, by a chief executive determined to bring about a "culture change”, by a director insisting he wouldn't be dissuaded from imposing a restructuring and by a team manager who just wanted the team to know who was boss. In all cases it came from some who thought their position gave them the power to do what they wanted. In every case it antagonised the audience. In every case the attitude was, if they don't like me I must be doing something right. As if they were some fearless warrior battling against the odds for the cause/greater good. When in fact they were just lording it over those they viewed as weak and subservient. These same individuals failed to stand up to the trade unions when they were strong and now failed to stand up to politicians now that redundancies, restructuring and outsourcing made everyone more compliant.

Stuart was that type of manager, he once said to me, “you think I'm a bit of a bastard don’t you" or was it, "they think I'm a bit of a bastard don't they". I said "no" but I think he would have been happier if I had said "yes". He was a bully. Those who disagreed with his view were either stupid or dismissed as acting out of self interest. Like many such managers he was surprised he was not respected by his peers. Moody and quick to criticise he had a habit of calling you into his office telling you there was a problem and demanding," what you were going to do about it" when this was the first you knew about it and I any case it didn't sound like it was part of your responsibility. If you said as much he would crossly say "well who do you think should sort this?" He liked to put people on the spot if someone asked a question he would turn to one of his managers and say, "would you like to answer that question."You were expected to give the answer he wanted. If you didn't he would publicly correct you, if you said you didn't know our position on that question then it looked like you were out of the loop and he would answer implying that you should know. 

It's a cliché to say management is not a popularity contest, managers do need to be prepared to do unpopular things but managers need to be trusted and aspire to be respected. Only the arrogant and those who are neither trusted nor respected say "you don't like me but I don't care".

Blair McPherson former director, author and blogger 


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