The traditional corporate structure is set up based on hierarchy:
- Head honcho asks management to get something done.
- Management delegates the work to minions.
- Minions scramble to get the work done and send it back to management.
- Management submits it to head honcho.
If you have good managers, they add value every step of the way, like taking the effort to understand exactly what the head honcho wants and communicating it clearly to the minions, reviewing and refining the minions’ work, and then giving the necessary credit to the team. But there are many horrible managers who don’t do that. This delegating manager I encountered took it to the extreme.
She delegated EVERYTHING.
Whatever the head honcho sent, she forwarded wholesale without providing any context. If an employee sought clarification, her standard response was, “I should not be spoon-feeding you. I am empowering you to do the work.” Her team was in a constant state of confusion, doing a lots of work they thought was what was required, and then getting rebuked for not getting it right.
She even called her team together, showed them a giant spreadsheet that listed all the ongoing projects, and told them how busy she was. “So what can you do to take all of this off MY plate?”
I almost snorted out my morning tea when I heard that. She had already farmed out everything on that spreadsheet to her team and was doing practically nothing. Sure, her calendar was always full, but that was because she had blocked it out to pretend she was in meetings that didn’t actually. Sure, she attended a ton of conference calls (only when people from headquarters were present), but didn’t cascade any information from the calls to the team. She probably didn’t even understand half of what was going on!
To this day, I’m still mystified as to how and why she continues to be employed. Then again, without such “legends” in the workplace, I wouldn’t have anything to write about, would I?