As long as I’ve been working in the public sector, I’ve noticed that management doesn’t seem to communicate very well. In fact, what they do is almost anti-communication. They suppress rumors, they complain when employees communicate about anything except the specifics of their job assignments, they turn even the most basic knowledge of what plans or guidelines are in place into state secrets.
And they’re very reactionary. When they jump up and down and deny, when they state in the strongest possible terms that something ain’t gonna happen, and then two weeks later, it happens, they end up looking like damned fools
I don’t understand their extreme aversion to “rumors”. If they withhold information on anything and everything, then, naturally, employees are going to talk to each other and share whatever information they can get. It’s like management is trying to prevent employees from being human. Sharing is normal.
But what’s even more interesting is when they turn actual, verifiable facts into “rumor”. It’s almost Orwellian (Bushian? No, wait: Rovian) the way they can spin an actual, honest-to-Goldstein data point into something vague and seedy.
Here’s an example (you knew I was going somewhere with this, right?) Some employee sees the Facilities guys wandering around, doing a survey of a work area, taking notes on a clipboard, measuring things. Said employee asks them what they’re doing, and they get an answer: “We’re just seeing if we can fit more cubicles into this area.”
Another employee, at another floor, hears from a group of people, “We’re moving.” When they’re asked where, the answer is the same place that the above-mentioned Facilities guys were doing their survey and measuring.
Now, for most people with IQs greater than room temperature, that would be enough to constitute a “fact.” I mean, philosophers might argue about what, exactly, is “proof” or “evidence” but, holy fucking shit, to the vast majority of the population, those two paragraphs are pretty close to being the same as 1 + 1 = 2. You know, where “2” is: hey, that work unit is moving over to this building here.”
So, the employees share that information with each other. And someone brings it up to the manager in charge. And what happens then?
Said manager puts out an email:
I would like to address the rumour that is circulating regarding the combination of [Team One] and [Team Two]. This is in fact just a rumour. I was told it was started by [Team Three], but maybe that is just a rumour too. I suggest in the future that when you hear this kind information that you come and ask your manager/supervisor or me directly and that you not spread the rumour even more. Also, you could suggest to the person you are hearing it from that they should in fact confirm their information before they spread it. Rumours serve no purpose except to disrupt work and upset people. My door is always open and I will be as honest as I can with you. Please come and see if you have any questions.
[Name of other manager of another group withheld]: Please share this information with your staff–my door is open to them also. I am happy to answer any questions they may have about my organization.
OK, got it? Let’s list the errors. I’m sure you can find lots more but here’s a few for thought:
- Sending this in an email? How chicken-shit is that? Hey, I’m sure that this person’s been a manager long enough to be able to fuckin’ lie with a straight face. Oh, maybe not… maybe the only way said manager can disseminate this misinformation is from the faceless anonymity of email. That way they don’t have to be around for the inevitable question-asking afterward, like “What do you take us for, idiots?” and “Is that rain, or are you pissing in my face again?”
- Remember what started this? Direct information from two different sources? Yeah, well, welcome to the wonderful world of “The Big Lie”. No, nonono, this isn’t a nasty fact; it’s a rumor.
- Worse than that last point is this: who the fucking fuck cares?! Is it really important? I mean, are the terrorists going to fucking win if someone finds out about this move early? Are the employees involved really that fucking indispensable?
- Talking about staff being moved around is going to “disrupt work and upset people”? Funny, the only one whose panties are in a twist is the above-mentioned manager. So, I guess, in a self-fulfiling way, yeah, Manager-person, it’s upsetting. But, really, taking a fuckin’ Prozac and everything’s gonna be all right.
- My absolutely favorite line is “My door is always open and I will be as honest as I can with you.” Does this person not understand how this reads? Hey, I always thought that honesty was a binary value. Somethin’s either honest, or it isn’t. But, hell, I haven’t been to Manager-Type-Person School, where I would find out that there are values of honest, shades of honesty… So if I go in to this person’s office, and ask a question, should I then follow up with, “On a scale of one to ten, with ten being ‘honest’ and everything else being a dirty lie of one kind or another, what would you say your answer to me is going to be?”
So, I have to ask: does this person know that it’s all bullshit but is somehow compelled to say it anyway? or are they oblivious to how dense and controlling they’re being?