Monday, July 20, 2009

Middle Managers Managing

For those of you lower-middle managers who have dreams of being promoted to upper-middle management, but are impeded (that means "slowed down") by those pesky employees who are just ruining everything with their emails about cost/schedule problems and other, you know, "technical issues", here is a primer (that means an easy explanation that you have an outside chance of understanding) on how to deal with these troublemakers.

This primer is done in the form of a hypothetical question (that means a pretend question) and several recommended responses.

Pretend email:

Bob: There is no way we can install this update by July 5. We don't have the manpower, and the update requires three diskettes and a reboot. On 250 workstations. If you would like this update to be done on schedule, please arrange for additional manpower and weekend overtime. Regards, Fred

Response Recommendation #1: Ask a Lot of Questions.

Fred: How many more people do you need? When do you need them? Can we accomplish the install with fewer diskettes? What is a diskette? What is a reboot? When do you need me to arrange for more manpower? How many weekends will this require?

Response Recommendation #2: Go on a Tangent, but in a Managerial Style.

Fred, look we need to concentrate on low cost, high impact solutions. Our marketing department is targeting 50% increase in delivery of integrated systems. Let's look for a synergistic approach.

Response Recommendation #3: Accuse the initiator (that means the person who wrote the original email)

Fred: Can't you expedite this? This need to be done ASAP. Please do this on an urgent basis.

Response Recommendation #4: Out of Office Assistant

Works every time. We'll send somebody around your office to turn it on. Leave it on as long as you would like. Try to look busy in the mean time.

Response Recommendation #5: Forward to another lower-middle manager.

Bernie: Fred is having trouble with the software update. Can you lend a hand? I'll be out of the office next week...

Response Recommendation #6: You are having email problems,

Blame it on IT. And delete the email.

Response Recommendation #7: Ask for daily reports.

Fred: We need to get this update done as soon as possible. Please update my daily on the progress.

Middle managers - you suck.


  1. Re #2: That really works. I was a Parts Dept. manager for a [German luxury manufacturer] dealership for years. I learned to work words like "proactive" and "on task" and "results-oriented" into normal conversation, and pretty soon I was the DISTRICT Parts Manager. So I could bring my forward-focused, cross-functional empowerment vision to lots more people.

  2. I can't tell you how many times something like this has run through my mind. Thanks for yet another entertaining commentary!