When a VP is fired

My boss’s boss was likely let go today – we received a sudden announcement that he was gone.  Everyone on the team is shaken.  What does this mean for them?  It is like someone died.  FOr me, i like and trust my boss, so am staying the course.  I will work my plan as approved, check in with him and trust his guidance/feedback.  This is why it is so important to have a trustworthy boss – 3 years ago when I did not trust my boss and we went through this, I couldn’t just trust him and keep my head down.

When a VP is fired

Funny to hear on training the manager take over the conversation

We are on a training call where the Product Manager for a product was presenting to the sales team but was talking a little slowly, so the very impatient VP gradually then blatantly took over the presentation.  It was funny to hear.  But at the same time, this is bad to do as a leader IMHO – the message he sent to his product manager was that he (the PM) should rely on the VP and/or the VP will not have his back or allow him to falter.

Funny to hear on training the manager take over the conversation

Talked to former employee about how work was going, made me glad I was not working there any more :)

Had coffee with a former employee who remains at the company where we worked together.  It sounds like the company is still a mess, and mired in metrics hell.  For example, each Rep has to find 6-8 leads a week, and they are measured on how well the delivery team covers the leads since (in theory) if the lead is good then delivery will do good work on it.  This is shocking – the delivery team isn’t doing good work and usually blames the leads, since they don’t really have any accountability (again, if the leads don’t advance it is the rep’s fault).  

Meanwhile, there are twice a week meetings where each rep’s leads are reviewed, they are given action items on each lead then questioned about the these items at the next meeting.  So there is a perpetual current of stress that begins with the 6-8 leads and runs down sh** creek from there.  

Oh my god.  What a hell hole, and a sign that the company is run by a former data-obsessesed engineer and not an actual good business person.  It makes me veeeerrrrryyyyy glad I don’t work there anymore.  How can you possibly be strategic and thorough — and possibly enjoy your job — when you are obsessed all the time about meeting one-size-fits-all metrics developed by people with no common sense?  🙂 

Talked to former employee about how work was going, made me glad I was not working there any more :)

Sooooo many managers say they find it really unpleasant to manage people

As Corporate America increasingly goes through reorg and consolidation hell, an amazing number of managers and DIrectors I’ve worked with over the years are now individual contributer worker bees.  And it is amazing how many of them didn’t like managing people.  In fact, I’ve yet to meet one manager at a cocktail party, meeting or other who actually said they enjoy managing people — most find it stressful and unpleasant.  THe most common phrase I think is “babysitting.”

I just spoke to a woman who just a few weeks ago went from management to being a worker bee.  She is in heaven.  She has gone from 70 hours a week to 50, and doesn’t have to be positive all the time (it is like the Frasier episode where the middle school drama teacher said she was sick of being positive all the time 🙂 ).  

My very own dad, who managed as many as 2500 people at one point (but is retired), said his happiest days were as a programmer.  

It is hard to manage people.  THings come up in their life that impact the team that you as manager have to deal with.  SOme people don’t like to work.  There is a lot of tattletaling and complaining about co-workers.  And the bottom line is your management holds you accountable for the people beneath yo. Maybe that is why their are so many sociopathic awful managers in management — if you are sane you try to get out, but if you are a sociopath you like bossing people around and treating them like dirt 🙂

For me?  I have a love hate relationship with managing people.  I love being a part of people’s lives and being able to help them.  But the tattletaling and the worrying about apathetic contributors is stressful.  

Sooooo many managers say they find it really unpleasant to manage people

I absolutely love  when people who used to work for me stay in touch!!

Ond of the things I try to be respectful of as a manager is that when someone from my team leaves, I stress that I’d love to stay in touch (unless they were not a good person and I showed them the door), but I don’t pressure them to stay in touch and give them their distance (although once in a great while I might send a random note that simply says hello an dhope you are well).  So when my team reaches out to me, especially as the months go by, I feel flattered and happy.  The past two weeks not one not two but three people I used to manage reached out to me to ask if I’d like to have coffee/lunch and catch up, and the thing is they know I am not in a position to hire right now which means it is reasonably genuine.  I love hearing from my ex-team, since I truly care about them!

I absolutely love  when people who used to work for me stay in touch!!

Rant/Vent: Pet Peeves with recruiters that I don’t directly manage

Our client needs an expertise that we don’t have on our Development team, so we are engaging a recruiting firm to help us.  First, the agency submitted someone who was hired almost immediately by another client.  Then they send us someone who we liked, but then complained that it took a few days to make a decision, then it turned out the person was already fired by our client.  I have always hated working with recruiters that I don’t directly manage for this very reason.  Over the years, when I manage recruiters directly I really want hard working, resilient and detailed people and take pains to ensure that happens – unfortunately, when I work with recruiters I don;t directly manage, I have to work with the things that I specifically don’t like to work with.

Rant/Vent: Pet Peeves with recruiters that I don’t directly manage

Self-reflection: difficult for me to have a healthy relationship with most of my bosses

For as long as I can remember, almost always I am highly deferential with a boss — or an antagonist.  It happens — but it is rare — that I have normal or healthy relationship with my boss, but more often than not I feel discomfort in disagreeing or befriending a boss, and when I lose respect for them I simply ignore them.  Best case?  It’s that special boss who recognizes my exceptional work ethic and analytic skills and just lets me run with my job without interference.  Once a boss no longer is my boss (due to reorgs, someone leaving the company, etc.), my awkwardness goes away and I no longewr feel any discomfort towards them.  In eseence, it is their power over my career that generates the odd feelings in me.  Luckily, though, I think most of my bosses have always liked me for the very reason I am independent and hard working without their having to watch over me.

So why is this, that I feel awkward towards bosses?  I think it’s because I have a very strong willed mother, and there were a lot of rules that — if broken, even accidentally — meant more often than an extended yell fest. When I was younger, I yelled back, but eventually, in my 20s, I got tired of yelling so stopped.  But the residual dread of having someone lording over me was already etched into me.

Ironically, this fear also makes me a better leader/manager – it means I take efforts to build collaboration and safety within my team, and retain an emotional intelligence on what it means to be the employee, and the results of this saftey and collaboration have spoken for themselves (most recently, turned the worset office in the 20-office region into the #2 office in a mere 2 quarters).

Most often, it hasn’t been a problem with my career – I am usually a highly-productive and independent employee, and most of my direct managers have liked and respected me.  The one exception was last year, when following a reorg I was assigned to a highly controlling, not very talented and rutlhess boss in a highly demanding job where it was generally impossible to meet expectations and he fired almost 80% of his management year over year.  The long hours where I invested a lot in my team combined with my own responsibilities reduced my ability to find an exit strategy (another job), which meant so much of my time was spent pandering to him and trying to avoid being fired.  It was awful.  In the end, it didn’t work, and to be honest I resent him for it.  

(Confession: Last week I found myself walking in front of an airport gate where the destination was Dulles, where my crazy ex-boss lives.  I scanned the crowd waiting for that flight, privately hoping to see him, knowing that if I did I was going to go out of my way to aggressvily walk through him so that he fell over but not without my raising a hand.  Just my thinking this tells me how much I detest that man.  The last time I did something like that was just after college, over 25 years ago, when at a Rose Bowl party another guy got jealous over a girl paying attention to me, even though I was just starting to date my wife and had no interest in anyone else; but the boy kept approaching me, touching my face and saying, “Why are you so interested in this pretty boy?” to the young woman.  I didn’t mind his comments — I was above his opinion of me and often took “pretty boy” as a compliment — but didn’t like his touching me. I warned him once, and when he did it a second time I pushed him backward until he fell over a chair.  “I told you to stop,” I said.  And just like that, the issue was over… For me, the issue with my ex-boss isn’t that he didn’t treat his people well, it was that he was a bully – he held the livelihood of my family in his control at a time when I still privaely battle chronic fatigue, which precluded my ability to address his madness in a way I wanted to.  So now that he no longeer has that kind of control, I relish the idea of punishing him a little bit.  I honestly think he migth be the only person in the world that I think that way about, but he was like working for Henry VIII.  Of course, the reality is I probably would have ignored him, and if he noticed me told him to leave me alone, that I didn’t have to bother with him again ever again, and that he was lucky I didn’t punch him.  Still, it is nice to day dream a little bit. :)).

Self-reflection: difficult for me to have a healthy relationship with most of my bosses