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Nobody Can Believe This Manager

So there's this "Ask A Manager" Q&A that's gone viral, at least judging by my own newsfeed and the fact that Buzzfeed did a whole piece on it.

You can read the whole thing for yourself, because it's pretty interesting. But the bottom line is that this manager wouldn't let an employee take two hours off to attend her own college graduation (!).

Of course the employee quits on the spot, after effectively telling the manager off by providing her with a list of all the time she's covered for others.

The manager's question - seriously, she actually asked this - was whether she should do the former employee a favor and send her a letter chastising her.
"I want to reach out and tell her that quitting without notice because she didn’t get her way isn’t exactly professional."

There is more to the story, including the part where the manager implies that perhaps the employee doesn't know any better because she used to be homeless and a foster kid.

Of course by this point we are all enraged at the manager's lack of basic humanity-slash-common sense and the advice columnist (Alison Green) tells her off appropriately.
"If anything, you should consider reaching out to her, apologizing for how you handled the situation, and offering her the job back if she wants it."

Why did this Q&A hit home for so many of us who read it?

I can't speak for other people, but for me it was dismay that the title of "manager" is so easily bestowed on incompetent people.

In this case, the person asking the question clearly demonstrated an inability to do her job, or even perhaps to understand it:

  • She readily admitted to letting someone with concert tickets take off the time, because "there was cost involved" (by that logic, is a college graduation, and all that it represents, cost-free?)
  • She readily admitted to basing her decisions about involuntary overtime on seniority only, without using any discretion as to extenuating circumstances or other factors.
  • She put her employee, the lowest person on the totem pole, in the excruciatingly uncomfortable (and impossible) position of having to ask more senior people to cover for her on a day off.

Here's the thing: Management requires actual work. Not an abdication of your duties.

What that means is, you don't just decide on a set of across-the-board factors for making a decision and then impose them without using your brain.

It means that you don't put people in humiliating situations.

It means especially that when your least senior person is your best performer, you do everything in your power to develop them, all the way up the chain.

Sadly many people look at the management profession as little more than "herding sheep," "implementing leadership decisions," or "keeping the trains running on time."

But it is so much more than that.

It is ultimately about shepherding people, so that they get the most - and give the most - every moment they are employed with the organization.


All opinions my own.

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