mixed mind salad

dressing optional

why some people want to protect the flaws of corporate hierarchies

The more time I spend in the corporate world the more I think it is polluted with morons!

Let me explain;

Perhaps morons is a harsh term to use, although in my experience I have seen more than enough examples to justify the term. However, I’d like to believe that at certain levels there is a degree of intelligence and common sense which unfortunately disappears down the ranks as we get to the middle management level where the morons are most densely populated!

The typical hierarchy within larger organisations typically looks something like this:

[Board of Directors]

|

[CEO/President]

|

[Executive Directors]

(these are usually divided into different business functions)

|

[Divisional Directors]

(For each business function)

|

[Regional Directors]

|

[Area Directors]

|

[Area Managers]

|

And finally;

[Pond Life – aka the people on the floor generating money for the organisation!!]

It’s when we get to the Regional Director level and below the morons start to surface, each level creating pointless and time wasting work for everyone else below them in the corporate food chain, in an attempt to hide the fact that any company or corporation could function so much better (at least in my opinion) if some of these levels were cut out of the system.

The majority of their time is spent in meetings, (perhaps due to a degree of loneliness!!) compiling sales figures, and performance reports on the people below them, neither of which create anything of value or contribute to increased performance or productivity. In fact these control measures waste time and reduce productivity and performance as well as employee morale! Why did these people forget the fact that happy people are productive people?

I struggled for a long time to understand how these middle management roles remained such a firm part of the corporate structure when in natural fact they are not really serving much of a purpose other than to force some level of control on the unfortunate people beneath them and create tension and unnecessary pressure as a way of proving to their equally pointless boss that they are doing something of value!!

That in itself is not the reason for me to refer to them as morons, nor do I blame them for being trapped in a flawed system. We all need a roof over our heads, food on the table and the means to provide for our families.

It’s when hey start to pass on their “golden nuggets” of wisdom that their lack of intelligence becomes abundantly clear. The only conclusion I can draw from this, is that their training (brainwashing) involves the act of memorizing certain phrases and quotes, most of which are re-hashed versions of some management self help book they half heartedly read a few pages from!

Let me give you a few examples starting with the one that makes me cringe the most:

“What are you going to do differently next time?”

Whenever I am asked that question I get an incredible urge to stab myself with a pen or whatever else is in close proximity!! Why show your team how to do better when you can simply pass the blame onto them?? Why lead from the front??

“It takes 21 days to change a habit”

I don’t really know why this is such a particular favourite of middle managers but I have yet to see any evidence of this fact and I doubt I ever will, simply because that statement is yet another example of the “one size fits all” approach used in the majority of the self help/personal development arena. Even more frustrating is the fact that they never offer any advice on how to change a habit (21 days or not) but instead just rattle off the statement and move on to the next one!!!

I have countless examples of these..

The real reason they are able to hide their incompetence behind this bizarre language of management speak, which at the best of times can best be described as meaningless drivel, is because the pond life (that includes me) below them are either too brainwashed or too stupid to see what’s going on or because they are too afraid to challenge or question this out of fear of being outcast for not conforming to the rules or out of fear of losing a desperately needed income!

I fall into the latter category, although I am sure that some people may want to put me into the first category too!

A more important point to factor into this, is the fact that, assuming that the middle management have some degree of intelligence, they must know that they do not serve much of a purpose and with that realisation they have to work very hard to protect the flaws of the corporate hierarchy in order to keep their job. That obviously means that whenever someone challenges the flaws of the system they are often seen as a threat which is when the bullying tactics are employed until the “threat” either resigns or conforms to the system. Resignation is the most common result!

I have spent the best part of four years fighting against a system I naïvely thought I could change for the better as long as I could get other people to see the flaws of the corporate hierarchy. What I failed to understand until now is the amount of work that goes into protecting these flaws, which leaves me very little choice;

I can either get out of of the corporate world or find a way of playing the corporate game while staying true to my values.

Wish me luck……..I have a feeling I may need it!!

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4 responses to “why some people want to protect the flaws of corporate hierarchies

  1. Viv August 29, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Have you read Parkinson’s Law yet?
    I shall have to send you our copy. It says exactly what you did, and explains how this system has arisen too…

  2. shiona September 3, 2010 at 7:28 am

    I’ve been in the corporate world for only three years now, but I must admit your description perfectly fits the company I work for.
    I was shocked at first that management can actually engage in such funny activities, but then I realized it was because they need to justify their huge salaries.
    In my country we have an expression which in English would sound like “to imitate work”. I don’t know if this is correct from the language point of view, but it is exactly what our managers do. They simply imitate work by generating numerous reports, power point presentations, business plans that are never adhered to are endlessly revised, weekly meetings, you name it.

  3. J September 5, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    “to imitate work” is a very accurate description of what managers generally do by generating the reports, meetings etc.
    In my view it is a complete waste of time!

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