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From the Forest to the Shore, Connecticut, USA
March 12
Director of Change
An unnamed non-profit health care provider
Change is good...that's what I keep telling my colleagues. It's difficult and hard. It's challenging and rewarding. It's fraught with peril. It needs to be done...yesterday!


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MAY 14, 2009 7:56PM

Stupid things managers say

Rate: 37 Flag

Now that I got that Thursday Haiku monkey off my back, I can have more fruitful discussion with you. There are managers and there are leaders. Managers tell you what to do, leaders inspire you to do good things. The best example of the differences between a manager and a leader was this one:

A manager builds a fire under people; A leader builds a fire inside of you.

I've worked for both managers and leaders. They are not interchangable. To paraphrase the character Dr. Gregory House, "Managers are MORONS!"

Some examples and my color commentary in italics:

"Work smarter, not harder."

Well I would, if we weren't running Windows NT2000 and this is 2007.

"This is not Rocket Surgery."

Look you're mixing your metaphors again. Rocket Science, Brain Surgery. Choose one, please. A metaphor is not a signal flag. That's called a semaphore.

"I don't have time for people issues, I've got more important work to do."

Perhaps after spending your entire careet as a Manager in the Human Resources department you should consider a career change.

"I'm not paying you to think. Just do what I told you to do."

After that million dollar fine from the state department of insurance, perhaps you should have engaged your brain before speaking.

"Let's go watched the trained monkeys perform."

What a kind and thoughful thing to say to the Governor of Maine after cutting the ribbon of a 36 million dollar Order Fulfillment Center. That was a morale killer for the dozens of employees who heard you. Your innappropriate remark made its way across the company in about a half hour. So glad you left the company to take a VP position at eToys. How did that dot.com gig work out for you?

My personal favorite:

"Why should I reward you for just doing your job. That's why you get paid."

What's this I hear about a retention bonus?

Have you any you want to share?

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You know what I'm tired of hearing? "The customer is always right!" No, they're not. Sometimes the customer is dead wrong. Like when they try to tell me how much their late fees are. Blech. Good post though, I should have plenty more to share after work this weekend ;)
Karin -- I got hired to think outside the box.
"I don't care what they (employees) think or what they need. The budget increase is for marketing, not them."
I got fired after I told this manager what I thought about his comment.
ok, dog, you just opened an old wound!
The classic, "That's not my job."

If you are the leader it should be...

Good post!
reading this reminds me why i retired. --rated--
Every time an idiot brought up "open door policies" I said, well the new thing is to BE the door...

Gaagh, they're dumb.
Oh, and rated for "rocket surgery".
oh man, I'm with Buffy....I hated that line....."it's not my job."
EEP -- I hear you. If the service delivered was superior, you wouldn't be hearing that drivel.

Fab -- Sorry for opening the old wound.

Buffy -- You are absolutely correct.

Chuck -- good for you.

Zuma -- Rocket Surgery was pathetic.

Karin -- I'm neither.
OEsheepdog, a few short annoying phrases or words that I've heard many times include: "win-win situation," "Synergy," "Giving 110%," "Take it to the Next Level," "I don't have the bandwidth" and "It's a no-brainer."
"You can scream "What a motherfucking cunt all day"...or you can see this as an *opportunity*!"
"You can scream "What a motherfucking cunt all day"...or you can see this as an *opportunity*!"
Des -- when you have a manager without a brain, it's definately a no brainer.

Sandra -- hahahahahahahahahahaha -opportunity -hahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahaha
After working in contact with some Human Resources Managers, I can only say they truly work in the Dehumanising Resources Department of whatever company... they are a disgrace. Rated!
I had this manager who made sure we lined our computers up at a 45 degree angle every evening so that they all matched each other, and we HAD MEETINGS where we discussed why people weren't doing this and what could be done about it.

my lord.
Here's one: "If you stay away and don't consult me, I think you are feeling guilty about something." Whereupon I make an effort to make more contact: "YOu know, you could become more indpendent, do I need to get you a counselor? Bad bad memories.

Good post!!
Good enough for government work.
My manager used to always say, "Gotta keep our noses to the grind."

It's Grindstone! It's Grindstone! Speak English!
Manager: You're not a team player.
Me: You mean, I'm just not playing on your team.
My favorite boss of all times was when I was first starting out in restaurants. I'd put a special on the menu that she didn't care for and she let me know it. I said, "But boss, the customers really like it."
She screamed, "THE CUSTOMERS DON'T KNOW SHIT!" You couldn't help but love her...
my boss had us write out these action plans for everything and I do mean everything... one of my co workers sent her an action plan detailing his intentions on taking a crap later that day ..and then he quit..
To the office employees: "Why would I invest any money in my office ( as opposed to the plant)? I don't make any money in the office. This is all overhead."

Ya sure can lose alot of money in the office buddy...
you've just reminded me how lucky i've been over the years!
This is book length topic!
An old boss of mine said "He is building a solid foundation for this business and you better be a part or move on". I moved on, he has replaced every employees at least 3 times since I left. Good luck with that solid foundation stuff.
These examples are exactly why I paint and write. Stupidity is still not a punishable crime and still appears to be (sometimes richly) rewarded.
Marcela -- One company where I worked we wondered what it was the HR department did. We referrred to HR as "hardly responsive."

odette -- Computer response times are always more effective when they are in "alignment."

Brenda -- Can you say "pathology?" I'm sure you can.

Kathy -- thanks

Dorinda -- We know how well the government works.

Deborah -- was that drip grind? Or electro perk grind?

Emma -- How true....

coog -- She worked in the food industry as opposed to the food service industry.

white and black -- the action plan went right over the boss's head, too.

bedv.. -- And he's overhead too. He indirect labor. What a putz!

cindy -- You're lucky, I hope it never happens to you.

Chi guy -- Multiple volumes.
GramGo -- Very funny and very sad.

Cartouche -- I am envious.
A former manager (definitely NOT a leader) and one of my colleagues would go on literally for hours in these lame nonsensical phrases at our weekly meetings. I've kept track of all of them. Here's one for the list - "They're just squeezing our shoes."
WHEN will managers learn that human interactions are the CORE of what makes a workplace function or not? rated for pure annoyance.
I was warned on my first day of work, to never, ever, even entertain the thought of asking my boss a question unless the surface of his desk was competely empty, and his toupee was straight.
I had a hyperactive, Jewish guy with a harvard MBA as a boss early, EARLY in my career. I was the only other guy in the group with a college degree. (It was a field service organization.) He used to love to pull on his beard and say, "You gotta DRIVE the issue. DRIVE the Issue!"

So, for his birthday, I went to a bakery and got a cake shaped like a penis car and had "Drive it, [name]!" written down the shaft.
Before talking with the office manager, I always feel the need to empty my brain. Let the vacuous, managerial catch phrases float by without comment.
Biting my tongue... hard, biting hard. Hushing myself.

Thank goodness you didn't post this last Friday after a truly delightful meeting with my boss/managers. Oh my.

Biting, biting, biting...
I remember being at the bargaining table - we were negotiating our very first contract - and we were working out concepts relating to posting of job vacancies and how those vacancies would be filled. Our interest was in giving current employees preference in filling vacancies if they wished to transfer, and in giving more senior employees preference over less senior employees.

A member of management's team said something like, "So, you're saying that, if we've got a more senior employee who applies for a vacancy, and all that person does is show up for work and read a newspaper all day, that person should get the job?"

My color commentary: Is that what you really think of your employees? Is there anyone here that does that? And, if so, isn't it your job, as management, to address that situation?
Here's one where I went off on a rant with my wife yesterday--"It's all about the money" or even worse "Show me the money", especially when it comes to sales driven operations.
I have always maintained that it's about the process. Follow the process and the results will come (i.e. sales & money). The process includes training, coaching and a passion for the customer.
This, of course, is the result of my having spent 6 years as an OEM automotive product and sales trainer as well as a "variable operations profitability consultant". The automotive dealerships which are the most upfront with staff and customers--the most transparent in their dealings, which have the most integrity in their operation are the ones which do the best and which continue to, if not prosper, be profitable.
Many times when I sold cars, I would have a General Sales Manager whose responses to any comments or questions in a sales meeting were as follows:
1st question/comment: "Shut up"
2nd question/comment: "Shut the fuck up"
3rd question/comment: "Get the fuck out of here"
And we wonder why business is floundering.
(Sorry for the rant--but this kind of crap has always tripped my trigger).
I just wanted to touch bases with you because I don't want to get our wires crossed, not with the webinar coming up.
"Keep me in the loop - if I don't see any chatter, it makes me nervous."

This allows him to jump into the discussion late in the game, responding to issues which are already resolved.

Great post, OE!
Karin people DO still say that shit and I want to puke. All creative people were born to think outside the box. They don't need to be told. I'm with you, I loathe it.

I agree with all of yours OES. Real leaders lead by example is one true saying that good leaders will live by. Otherwise, you're a hypocrite.

"We take a little from this, and a little from that and, you know, marry them together and BOOM, we got our solution."


Great post!
Agreed 100%.

Enjoy if you wish,I posted this a month ago:

This is why that t.v. program "The Office" is so successful.

Personally I like (kinda love) "Office Space" even more. I thought Gary Cole "Lumberg" was simply awesomely awfully perfect in his simultaneous synchopantic/dictatorial role. Oh, the dread one has of kowtowing to a completely inferior human being. ewww... I shudder.
Oh god, my boss says, "Quite frankly..." kind of like a reflex. It's gotten to where I flinch every time he says it. I so want to tell him that saying that all the time is either a marker that a lie follows, or an admission that most of the time, he's not being frank.

had to bite my tongue, too. Let's just say "yes" I would love to smack them upside the head.
"Maybe I'll pull it out of the trash and look at it."

This is what a new department director said of the strategic plan that our management team spent a year developing.

"You can tell from my demeanor and the way I carry myself that I'm a man of action."

Same director. He actually said this in a meeting. And yes, he really, really did say that. You can't make this shit up.

All I can say is that Dilbert isn't a cartoon; it's a documentary.
So true. I heard one such bad "manager" today. "Well, it's not like we're going to fire them for not knowing how to accomplish that..." I-YI-Yi-Yi!!! A good read here OE.
Marcela - "Human Resources Managers...Dehumanising Resources Department" - you got that absolutely right.

Mishima - Yes, I often think of Dilbert as documentary work myself. Way too much truth in those nuggets of cringeworthy humor.
You are sooooo right. My next to last "Manager" was an insecure paranoid alcoholic. He was also bi-polar. Good ridence.
My last "Manager" was a "favorite" of the Division Mgr., who did all of the DM's power point stuff for him. This "Manager" was intelligent but was NOT a people person (Leader). One of his favorite quote's "No good deed goes unpunished."....He punished all of us except his "Golden Boy".....Amen.
Rated & Cheers!
"We don't want to disturb the look of our stores." Said the Harvard Grad.

I, the subservient, objected to carrying 10 grand in cash with only a FAKE camera to protect us. Nothing between us and the customers in questionable areas (urban areas was PC at the time). A terrible company (and industry) Advance America and sadly ironic name.

Sorry I worked there, my depression during my tenure was... bad. But, I needed a job.

Anyway, they wanted us to carry 10,000 dollars in cash in a little drawer behind the counter. I was protected by the fake camera and my tie.

I quit and was taken to the labor board by these Harvard grads (over unemployment). Where they had to admit to 20 robberies in the past 6 months and yes the camera was fake and no they weren't going to install any safety precautions.

To which the judges decision read..."Advance America's actions are unconscionable".

Because? They didn't want to disturb the look of the store.

I pointed out that one employee was shot and wondered if the blood had disturbed the look of the store.

Best and the brightest?
Manager: There is no "I" in "team".

Me: Yeah, but there is no "team" without "me".

Thumbed. Rocket surgery. Gotta remember that one.
"Work smarter, not harder." Well I would, if we weren't running Windows NT2000 and this is 2007.

I'm having this engraved on my desk.