Anyone can be incompetent for a few weeks or even months without suffering serious repercussions. The dysfunction of most organizations provides cover for even the most glaring managerial incompetence — for a while. But the fact is, only a gifted few can be ineffective for their entire careers and continue to fail upwards.
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For many people, the new year is a time to reflect. That’s because they still cling to the quaint belief that they can become happier and more productive. Enlightened managers like you know that self-reflection is like 10,000-mile maintenance: if the wheels haven’t come off yet, just keep driving.
Here are five ways to avoid thinking too much about the future, so that you can concentrate on repeating the same mistakes year after year:
1. Don’t make a plan for what you’d like to be doing in one, five, and ten years. Those things are so embarrassing to look at later on, when you’ve failed miserably. Better to not even think about it. Then, ten years from now when you’re selling batteries at Radio Shack, you can claim success and say, “Yeah, I planned it this way.” Read More →
You’ve worked hard all year. Now it’s your time to make a total ass of yourself in front of everyone who could possibly be beneficial to your career. So relax and let your true personality shine. Here are some tips to make the most of the situation: Read More →
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a manager is the power to waste other people’s time. A great way to do this is by transforming short meetings into endless morale-sucks in which nothing is accomplished and big chunks of the work day are blown.
Here are some helpful hints for pulling this off effectively:
1. Do it on short notice! Impromptu meetings disrupt whatever work people were already doing. Everyone loves a surprise, especially in the middle of a busy day. An unplanned two-hour meeting not only shakes up the same old boring routine, it teaches patience, discipline, and time-management skills. Your employees will thank you a thousand times over. Read More →
Now that you’re a big, important manager, you’ll probably be called on to interview job candidates. Despite what the experts in Human Resources and Legal say (cough — who cares — cough), the whole issue of what constitutes legal and illegal lines of questioning is blown waayyy out of proportion. Some people are just too uptight.
Nonetheless, here are a few things you might want to say to reassure job candidates that you’re “in sync” with HR and Legal on those touchy topics:
I just want to let you know that we wouldn’t mind hiring a really old person such as yourself. Your generation has done so much for our country, particularly in World War I. The fact that you even showed up today is pretty amazing, when you think about it. I mean, your kids are probably on Social Security by now, right? Ha-ha. No, but seriously — I know you probably didn’t even get that joke, and that’s okay, because I know you’re a little slow mentally. I just want you to know that we’re willing to sacrifice productivity a bit by hiring you. Can I call you Grandpa?
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Hurray. The evil production manager you used to report to just got fired. Everyone on your team is happy. Even better: you’re the new production manager. Woo-hoo!
Here’s what you should do to ensure that you will fail:
Don’t learn how to manage up.
You always thought your old boss was a jerk. Your new boss will be a jerk too. You hate bosses. You never want to be a boss. Just keep doing your old job. If your new boss absolutely insists on meeting with you now and then, fine. But don’t go out of your way to communicate or—ick—try to understand his or her goals and strategies. Certainly don’t be proactive or anything. After all, the whole stupid company sucks; you’re just here for a paycheck. Share your sentiments with your team. Read More →
As a manager, you may occasionally be asked to “think strategically.” That means to consider issues that have a broad impact on the company, such as long-term revenue opportunities, more efficient competition in a changing marketplace, and securing job offers from other companies before everyone at your company realizes you’re clueless.
Unfortunately, “thinking strategically” requires time, effort, and precious brain power that could be better spent on fantasy baseball. Here are five ways to avoid it:
1. Force yourself to focus on the day-to-day.
What’s due by the end of the week? When are those reports from Cincinnati coming in? Don’t you have some sort of meeting to attend? Don’t worry about the fact that your company has no office in Cincinnati. The point is, you’re a manager. Look busy.
2. Only manage down.
Pay lots of attention to the work your subordinates do. Has it been double-checked? Would it look better with a slightly larger font? How about an emoticon on the cover page? Don’t worry about your peers in other departments. And by all means don’t bother your boss. Respect his privacy and let him do his own job, and he’ll let you do yours. Read More →
In between the time that you become a manager and the time you get fired, you may be asked to replace a worker who has quit in disgust. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase your skills in hiring by disregarding resume-screening “best practices” and instead “thinking outside of the box.”
Although this frequently results in hiring serial killers, occasionally you will end up hiring a unique, relatively harmless individual who shakes up the status quo and whose body odor is hardly ever a distraction.
Consider these tips for going through resumes:
Does the candidate have a cool email address like email@example.com? If so, five points for creativity!
How do the candidate’s qualifications match up with the requirements of the position? If the job calls for digital design skills and their most relevant work experience is working the drive-through at DQ, five more points! Candidates with all the required skills are overqualified and will become bored quickly. Eliminate them and focus instead on go-getters who can learn as they go.
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There is one key rule in management: never hire anyone desperate or stupid enough to work for someone like you. Unfortunately, at some point in your management career you may need to replace an employee who was smart enough to quit.
If and when this happens, you will probably come across something known as a “resume” and its useless cousin, the “cover letter.”
Back when people used typewriters and an archaic delivery system known as the U.S. Postal Service, cover letters served the important function of protecting resumes against damage caused by psychotic postal workers.
Since the advent of computers sometime around 1885, resumes have been sent via email. Today, the purpose of a cover letter is to avoid attaching a resume to a completely blank email, which is frowned upon in some cultures.
You will recognize a cover letter by its adherence to the following format:
Beginning: Blah-blah-blah. Blah-blah-blah.
Middle: Blah-blah-blah. Blah-blah-blah-blah.
End: My resume is attached.
While most managers read only the resume, you should always print out and read the cover letter as well. This is a handy way to kill time and avoid doing actual work. Perhaps more important, it can serve as inexpensive gift wrap, lining for a birdcage, or holiday party confetti.
Under no circumstances should you pay attention to the following: Read More →
Most bosses suffer from the delusion that they are smart. Perhaps they feel that their years of industry experience and managing people somehow give them special “knowledge” that others don’t possess. As the hot new manager with the MBA, it’s your job to set him straight.
Here are five tips for doing it right:
1. Exude confidence. State your opinion firmly. If that doesn’t work, continue to repeat your point, but louder. Some management gurus claim that a more productive way to persuade someone is to provide compelling data to back up your opinion. But that requires effort, and research shows that 90% of the time, appearing to be right is more important than actually being right. (The other 10% of the time you will cause your 150-year-old company to implode. But that’s only 10% of the time.) Read More →