Managment by cliché

2008

The web is full of stories of managers doing dumb things, but one that stands out is this piece by Daniel Decero about a manager who is addicted to clichés.

Apparently Decero had a friend whose boss liked to dispense what he thought was wisdom by using old phrases that are now, essentially, meaningless. For example, telling people that "if you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen."

When he asked Decero for some advice, he told his friend to discuss the issue with his boss rationally. Instead of calming down the manager, all this did was anger the him.

Since the polite way didn't work, Decero suggested his friend take the opposite approach. He told him that since it seemed like he was going to get fired anyway, why not have fun and respond to each cliché with another one. For example:

Boss: "He who hesitates is lost."
Friend: "Yeah, but only fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

Boss: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
Friend: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Boss: "One bad apple spoils the barrel."
Friend: "Now is that the same apple that keeps the doctor away and are you sure not comparing apples with oranges."

Needless to say his friend was soon downsized. Apparently, however, after that, other employees took up the charge and the cliché-spewing manager was let go as well.

It's nice when the story has a happy ending, isn't it?

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