Thursday, August 21, 2014

Len Bullard Interviewed on Spice Radio

This was great fun.  I was interviewed about music, the local scene, etc. on a podcast.

Spice Radio!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Abusive Narcisisst As Boss

A big d'oh. This is how insecure or narcissistic managers create a following that emulates them and culls out those who are not "of the body" while telling the customer or other teams that those people are the "troublemakers" or "do substandard work". It is the main fake out game being played in companies where small groups want to

a) get rid of people not of their race or political persuasion
b) gut positions and replace them with people who are loyal to them personally.  

This is easy to spot but HR professionals loathe or are too afraid for their own jobs to do it. Over time it shows up as less quality in product deliverables but it can do substantial damage to a company until it is detected. And then the manager simply moves on and often to a better position. 
Things to look for:

1. Manager belittles last person who had the job in meetings with other staff nodding.

2. There seems to be an oddly high amount of turnover.  This one is a critical symptom because only a few possibilities exist to cause this.   a) Lack of skills given the tasks.  b) Lack of clarity in direction given the manager.  c) Talent is resisting the directions given.   All three speak to the competence of the manager and b and c act in combination.   a is possible but unlikely unless the task requires skills so rare as to be unlikely in commercial work.

3. Manager compliments himself/herself and distributes "words of wisdom", or Skills 101 papers that they authored while working at another company.

4. Manager distributes work tools or other artifacts that come from a prior company.

5. Manager gives technical explanations that you know are technically incorrect or very shallow, uses their own buzzwords for items that have standard terms, insists that the standard terms or technical approaches are incorrect or "snake oil".

6. Manager insists all work be inspected by an individual who is actually seldom in the work area and when is there is insufficiently prepared or also technically inept.  Manager never inspects work performed in process but makes broad comments about it based on opinions of this individual usually in meetings with staff rather than in private.  Actively humiliates individuals while lavishly praising others.

7. Manager refers to customers disparagingly with names such as "Captain Meathead" and occasionally rants about how the customer or government should not be interfering with "free enterprise".

8. Manager insists on people working free overtime, makes remarks about people who don't and often disappears early saying "Well, I've put in my forty".

9. Manager schedules away from work team meetings at local watering hole.

10. Manager sleights contributor work by insisting on rewriting it but failing to name the critical technical issues (smoking the expert).

11. Manager produces schedules and technical approaches that are full of faked numbers (the so-called spreadsheet manager).

12. Manager blames other departments for failing to meet schedule or going over budget.

13.  Manager is obsessed with monitoring systems for productivity that add considerable overhead to tasks but do not improve the product.

14.  Manager promotes inappropriately.  This one is often seen among those who look for outside the office relationships with co-workers.   It takes two to tangle and in the era of Title VII one might think this is easily handled but it is surprisingly common as salaries are being forced down and the majority of the team consists of temporary contractors trying to go direct and easily dismissed.  Right to work states are notoriously bad.

See these and prepare to move on.    The ship is headed for the 'berg. 

Systems theory: to adapt to a changing environment or to adapt rapidly to new requirements a system must have effective measures for initiating affective means. The signal to action latency is the fog of war and business. There are symptoms of such that are easy to detect up close but easy to disguise given local autonomy in hiring, budgeting and determining technical direction. Some businesses do not understand or ignore such but there are a few symptoms that are easy to see at a distance such as rapid turnover of key staff positions. Others such as abusive remarks which some would use in a Title VII action take a long tedious process and much documentation, often come down to he-said-she-said and don't create affective change past a few HR posts on the walls admonishing via published policy.

Direct actions are rare and usually after damage has to be hidden to protect higher levels of management that could and should have acted but didn't. Usually it is a combination of measures that produce an unignorable pattern and then the actions are predicated on least damage to reputation even if the effects have damaged work on existing contracts. Then if the customer is aware, those contracts evaporate.

We laud local control but local control is the best ally of the abusive narcissist because this type typically controls the flow of information, the contacts and thus is always in a position to change outcomes with a single display of flatulent dismissal. The damage accrues and when the change comes, it is violent loss of opportunity or income.

The problem of the fit of a model tends to be replicated socially across other power domains and this is how business culures rot. It is the lemming march of organizations even as a local community will detect it and begin to cooperate to remove the abuser through out of band signals labeling them as such.  Once the abusive narcissist loses control of the narrative because they can no longer control perceptions by controlling information flows, they are done and must move on to another.

Should The Prosecutor Recuse Himself?

If a public prosecutor can't be trusted to perform his duty in pursuit of justice because his police officer father was killed by a black man, can those protesting because a white officer killed a black man be trusted to recognize justice?

Rodney King was filmed being beaten by the Los Angeles police. OJ Simpson was provably guilty. When race becomes a part of a case in America, all too often, facts don't matter and we should be as concerned about that as any other social context. Justice is blind but not deaf, dumb and stupid and this cuts all ways or it isn't justice.

Consider that highly litigated processes tend to drive out competent people because the risks of becoming collateral damage are too hgh. If we continue on the path we've been walking, there will come a time when there are no competent professionals in the justice system and the only recourse will be mobs driven by social media and ratings seeking mainstream media. The talking heads will be both judge and prosecutor and every day will see a new Ox Bow Incident.

Then if you are a minority, your chances of being fairly treated go to zero quickly.

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