Friday, May 29, 2009

Rank Supervision - The Rise of The Butt-Monkeys

In everyone’s life there is an individual, maybe several individuals, who have been declared to be their superior. In most situations, this is a work related issue. There are also teachers and classmates, etc… So what is it about these people that make them superior? I mean, really. Chances are they aren’t better than you and or me. They put their pants on one leg at a time and all that. So what happened that not only put them ahead of you, but OVER you?

Some people say that it is a matter of them being very hard workers and very knowledgeable about their field. Alright. Now ask yourself if they know more than you do. Can they do the same thing that you can do, only better? In my experience, that is rarely the case. In fact, most of the supervisors I have had in my life were remarkably unimpressive people. I can think of two that were actually the real deal. As for the other supervisors, well, let’s just say I have yet to see what is so super about their vision. Most of them are “yes men/women”. They kissed the right ass, twisted things the right way, and usually lied about some aspect of what they are capable of, and they got promoted. This sort of thing leads me to believe and advocate the following theory: Very few people are superior to anyone else, they just rank higher. Success doesn’t come from having a title. It comes from how you execute the tasks special to that title. Few people live up to label of superiority.

How many times have you seen a manager of a group or department tell their minions (that’s how the “superiors” like to treat the people who work under them) to do a task and do it by a specific time, and you know full well that this asshole has no idea how to actually DO any part of the job she/he is demanding that you perform? I see it constantly. I have never worked in a place where this was not going on. The basic principle is this: "Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, administrate."

Understand that not all “supervisors” take this approach. There are those who actually find it helpful to know how to do the job that they are asking you to perform. This leads to a certain amount of respectability. If they have experience in the real world of what you are doing, it makes it easier for you to trust them. Alas, most managers and supervisors are not worthy of trust. In fact, of the ones I have met, I am not sure I would let any of them supervise my dog taking a dump. It has been said that lower and middle management are havens for incompetence. So far in my life, I have seen very little to refute this, except to say that it is true of upper management too.

Recently I was privy to observe the process of managers being selected and hired for a new department in the company that I work for. They managed to hire about two managers out of 12 that were actually truly management material. These two people are the only ones who actually know how to do the job at hand and have actually done it. They are both good at teaching and motivation. The others that were hired were people who to this day have no idea what they are doing or how they would go about doing any of the job that people who are working for them have to do. These people are not “supervisors”. The term “supervisor” is indicative of a measure of superior knowledge and ability. They posses neither. These people simply out rank the people that work for them. They are NOT anyone’s superior (at least, not in the workplace). They do, however imagine that they are somehow better than the people who work for them.

Apparently what makes you better than someone else is how much money they make and whether or not they are in a 6x6 cubicle or an 8x8 cubicle…and the worst ones are the ones who have been blessed with actual walls and a door. These psychos are the absolute horrors of the workplace. Somehow having walls and a door makes it legal for an individual to randomly bitch-slap their minions. And the bitch-slap is contagious. It gets handed off from the office, to the big cubicles, and then to the smaller cubicles. It is not unlike Ronald Reagan’s “Trickle Down” theory. The fat-cats dish something out and it rolls down hill until it gets to the lower level peons. By the time it hits those of us on the bottom of the ladder; it has been chewed, swallowed, passed through the digestive tract and shat out upon our heads. Which, by the by, is proof that shit really does roll down hill, and the biggest shits do manage to float to the top.

My personal favorite type of “supervisor” is the one that sits on their throne of greatness, knowing nothing (not unlike the British Monarchy or most of our governement officials). When you bring a problem to their attention, they handle it in the only way they know how…to drag you into their boss’ office saying that you have a bad attitude and are not a team player. I refer to these people as “Rank Supervisors”. You see, if something is wrong, or unfair, this is not something a rank supervisor is prepared to deal with in any way. And in order to justify their signature incompetence, they make sure that it looks like YOU are the problem. And you are the ONLY problem. If you would just do what they told you, then there would be peace in the Middle East , AIDS would be cured, global warming would be stopped, and events like Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 wouldn’t happen anymore. But since you aren’t a team player, well, the world has gone to hell in a hand-basket and you are clearly the one with a grip on the handle.

Never ever tell a rank supervisor that the people who work under them are not a team. In their mind, they have a team. They are the coach. And everyday that a report is generated in regards to their team is “game day”. Rank supervisors live in a special magic land. It is a kingdom called “Butt-Monkey” and you and the people you work with are to be their loyal subjects, known as the Butt-Monkians. Don’t try to reason with the ruler of Butt-Monkey by pointing out that no one on the team cares about anyone else, nor should you tell them that any team member is not doing their part. If you point out that there is anything not right with the “team”, the Rank Supervisor of Butt-Monkey will promptly take steps to have you silenced. If you should happen to offer a solution to the problem during the presentation of said issue, you will still be silenced. The Rank Supervisor will then proceed to bring it up in the next meeting they go to, and present the solution as their own idea. If you mention that you were the one who thought of it, they will silence you by saying something daft like, “Now, now, Little Butt Monkey, there is no ‘I’ in “Team”.” As much as you may want to, it is not in your best interest to reply “there is no ‘we’ either, but there is an ‘m’ and an ‘e’.” This response leads them into anger and they proceed to further target you. You are a trouble-making peon and it's not good for morale!

It is said that someday people will get what they deserve. Those of us who work under rank supervisors and live in the land of the Butt-Monkey, must have done something really shitty in a past life. So, until we can get passports to the Promised Land, we must all stand and salute the Butt-Monkey flag and sing the national anthem – “All Hail the Simian Ass!”

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