I've always had this feeling that some Middle Management behaviors are too wide-spread and identically performed in too many companies to simply be coincidence.
You know the sort of thing I mean: assault by PowerPoint, sabotage with a smile, that kind of thing. This many people can't be that good at those things by accident. Someone is training them.
Well, after investigating a suspicious fire in a trashcan behind a client's HR building, I finally found the evidence I needed. It was partially charred but still readable - the training brochure from Hades. Yes, Satan has his own training company and a more mercenary (and more successful) man than I would buy stock because it's having a heck of a year.
Here's a sample of the catalogue I found:
"What You'll Learn: You already know Sales is the "straw that stirs the drink". Now you can help everyone else in the organization to meet impossible deadlines, fudge delivery dates and accept blame for your over-commitment to customers. In this one-day workshop, you'll learn:
- Six phrases that never fail to endear: including "if it weren't for us none of you geeks would even have jobs" and "nothing moves in this country til someone sells something"
- You're the only person in the company with an expense account - use it: creative dinner purchasing to win support
- If Admins weren't supposed to cry they wouldn't hire girls for the job: accepting the blame only slows you down, use others to carry that useless guilt and keep your attitude positive
"Who Should Attend: Sales leaders who aspire to "C" level jobs and any sales person still behind in their quota by third quarter.
"What You'll Learn: Approving even the best-intentioned initiative can make your numbers look bad or worse- make that revenue show up in another department. Delaying approval is an art that you'll learn in this interactive two-day offsite program emphasizing role-play and templates. Exercises include:
- Demanding Exact ROI: they'll have an easier time proving human complicity in global warming than a direct line from their project to new revenue when you're done with them
- Looking Like the Decision Maker Until It's Too Late:
- "Don't blame me, blame GAAP" and other phrases to deflect criticism. Special module on Sarbanes Oxley and other new legislation no one in other departments have ever heard of.
"Who Should Attend: Managers who are right at budget and want to keep it that way. Anyone on a profit-sharing plan may attend with proof of authority over at least 3 direct reports.
"What You'll Learn: Making brave claims and suggesting changes opens you up to tough questioning from superiors and jealousy from your peers, but you still have to do project updates. In this ½ day program you'll learn how to:
- Anticipate Objections and spend your allotted time agreeing with them while trying to make your point
- Make the Trend Line Flash Bright Orange and other tricks to make your weak numbers look more impressive
- Names Drop, Trends Rise: Effective openings including "When Mr _____, the CIO assigned this task to me" and other bulletproof phrases to deflect criticism
"Who Should Attend: Managers who've been in the same position over 4 years, Project Leaders more than 2 months behind delivery schedule, anyone in IT who presents to VP level
What You'll Learn: You're in Management now, you don't get paid for overtime and "They" will never promote you anyway, but you like the paycheck. This 4-hour web seminar can be attended from home on a "sick day" or scheduled for when you might have to make an appearance at an important project meeting. The seven habits include:
- Be reactive: jump when they say jump, it'll make them feel like you're busting your hump.
- Begin With the Performance Review in Mind: what will you be measured on so you can ignore the rest
- First Things First : do things in order regardless of priority, that way you can check it off your list
- Think Win-Window Office: make sure you get the coolest location with the best view
- Seek First To Understand Who's Got the Power: not everyone is equally important, find out who's got the juice so you don't waste time sucking up to someone who can't help you
- Synergize Principles of Obfuscation: if you understand this, you already know how to use big words to convey activity. You can take an extra break during this module
- Sharpen Your Tongue: never be the last to speak and always have someone to blame already lined up.
"Who Should Attend: Managers who've been at their jobs a long time and no wish to get ahead, those with a short time til retirement and anyone with no ambition whatsoever or pride in their work.
Act now, operators are standing by . . . .
'The Seven Habits of Not-Completely-Useless People: Working Just Hard Enough To Keep Your Job' I wish you had salvaged the class description for Upper-management class on the training and rewarding of this behavior: I wonder how many firms prefer this type of performance over go-getters and boat shakers.