Like most people, I’ve spent most of my career working for someone else – that is, in the employ of some sort of for-profit business organization reporting to either a manager, or supervisor. Over the years, jobs I’ve held include (in alphabetical order):
Chemist, Pharmaceutical Research and Development
Christmas Ornament Store Security Guard
Consultant, Medicinal Chemistry
Gas Station Attendant
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Retail Sales Associate
This ‘bottom-up’ perspective very much informs my insights on work and business management. I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of management’s misguided polices and protocols, as opposed to the one signing off on them. I too have been discouraged by what appear to be the easily avoidable organizational failings caused by poor management practices. I’ve seen organizational dysfunction up close, and looked on in frustration as the mediocre parts (and people) of a business dragged it down over time, as opposed to the better ones lifting it up. And I’ve wondered why what’s so obvious to those of us at the bottom of the organizational pile is so difficult to see by those perched at its top.
But poor management, I’ve found, cannot simply be dismissed as a people problem.
Yes – there are bad managers out there. But you can’t just fire your ‘bad’ managers, replace them with ‘good’ ones, and expect things to magically get better. The problem goes deeper, and is ultimately systemic.
You see, the management function is widely misunderstood by most people – managers and employees alike. This leads managers to engage in behaviors that harm, rather than help, the organizations that employ them – and employees to mistakenly accept those behaviors as just how things have to be. In fact, organizations often reward poor management practices (albeit unintentionally), as opposed to discouraging them. This is why organizations continue to be such frustrating environments in which to work, and why so many business eventually fail. (For more on my management philosophy, click here.)
Finally, I cannot claim to have had any formal training in the management sciences. I do not have an MBA, nor have I ever been a CEO.
Any expertise I have in business theory, management theory, or the organizational sciences is the result of on-the-job experience, and self-study.