The Oblivious Manager

For most managers that is what you represent . . . obliviousness.  A missed opportunity to connect with the work and the worker happens every day.  Too busy to be bothered with the goings-on that surround the business.

There are performance appraisals to write, targets to hit, activity numbers to report, and important decisions to be made.  As you move up the hierarchy of the organization it gets worse and the more layers in management the more dysfunction.  Lost in the quagmire of bureaucracy and compliance to the wishes of the manager above them.

The manager revels in the appeals to their authority where power becomes more important than knowledge.  Workers keen to get ahead build rapport with the hierarchy in public, but in comraderie with the fellow worker laugh at the ignorance of manager’s thinking.  Until, of course, the ignorance of management decisions wreaks havoc on the worker domain which happens with alarming frequency.

Entrapping technology, scripts, rules and more to dumb down the worker as these perceived misfits are incapable of directing their own work.  Rules that keep the worker from giving a customer a $5 credit in fear of giving away the store.  While managers smartly package away mortgages and almost put the economy into depression.  The inequity of the situation would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

Often, I wonder had management been blessed with compassion and understanding, would their ever had been the need for unions.  The barons of past generations were ruthless and set forth a poor example for the generations of managers that followed.  It seems we have become less ruthless as time has passed.  This recession with unemployment of 10% makes one wonder whether we are taking steps back as organizations show increasing profit at the expense of the unemployment rate.

If and/or when management discovers that knowledge is gained at the points of transaction with the workers and customers they may want to spend more time there.  Spending more time in the work with the worker, managers can help clear the path to work that is efficient and effective.  Awkard moments at the beginning, but both manager and worker benefit and as a result so does the customer.

Studying the needs of the customer, worker and manager can design a better system to service them.  A happy ending for all.

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Make the new decade a profitable and rewarding one, start a new path here.  Download free from “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about how to get started at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at or LinkedIn at

Tripp Babbitt is a columnist (Quality Digest and IQPC), speaker, and consultant to private and public service industry.

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