Don’t Go to Work for Wrestling

by Krishna on February 14, 2009

I hope Jurgen Appelo is not really serious when he posted these tips about annoying your boss:

  • When asking for some days off, wait as long as possible, and try to arrange for other team members to ask for the same free days. Make sure to buy flight tickets before requesting days off.
  • When you send an email message to your manager, make the number of people in the Cc proportional to the number of complaints in that message. If it’s really serious, send the Cc to the whole organization.
  • [… another 12 tips]

wrestlingAs I wrote in a previous post about Scott Adams’s self-defeating cynicism, it is easy to fall into the trap of treating every manager as a jerk just because you don’t agree with them on some aspects of your work. Since they are your bosses and hence hold power over you, your disagreements are an annoyance to you. But things can be better if you can perhaps try to understand the manager’s way of working.

A relationship where the manager and the employee are constantly competing to annoy each other creates a toxic work environment. It also blinds them to who they serve: the customers who are robbed by poor products, and the shareholders whose equity is eroded. Everyone should see Dilbert for what it is: Not a comic work to laugh at, but a horror story to be scared of. Because of the pointy-haired boss, no one remembers that Dilbert and the other employees are also sorry caricatures.

Let’s say that you are an employee and you work under a horrible boss, like someone out of “The No Asshole Rule”. Before you start retaliating, first ask yourself, was the relationship always like this? If not, what did you do for the manager’s behavior to deteriorate? Is there something you can do to mend the relationship? Would changing your work habits or talking to the manager help?

If you have tried every positive step you can think of to get the relationship on a better level, the question is: Why are you still working there? You could move to a different job in the same or another organization. You could perhaps start a business. You could change professions. There are many options you could consider to remove this scourge from your life.

But perhaps something is holding you back. Maybe it has to do with a combination of money, power, prestige, stability, or convenience that you cannot find in another job. So you make a bargain. You don’t want to lose something of value, so you stay in your current job. Every day is annoying, but there are no good alternatives for you at the present moment.

If you are in this situation, first recognize that you agreed to the bargain. You chose this situation. You own it. Your manager’s behavior is the price that you paid for selling out. Now, when you descend into revengeful acts of pettiness, you fall further into the depths. At this point: You have become the same as your manager with the same narrow, ugly mind.

Be better than that. You may be a victim of circumstances, but don’t let it destroy your integrity. One day, things will become better. At that time, you want to look back at the bad time as when you preserved your good character, not when you were the one who got down to wrestling in the mud.

[Photo licensed from skwishy]

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