The Middle Manager’s Oath.
[Originally published Januaury 24, 2013.]
(To be recited by corporate managers and senior managers each morning while looking in a full-length mirror, topless, and flexing their biceps.)
I will empower my team to find their own solutions to those problems, which I do not want to deal with myself.
I will be decisive in making crucial decisions that I do not trust my team enough to make themselves.
I will evangelize the use of data-driven decision-making because my gut tells me it’s the right thing to do.
I will take expense reports extremely seriously, much more seriously than the HR Code of Conduct, which does not apply to me.
Because I have no life outside of work, I will expect the same of my team.
I will take credit for any project I named.
If an important executive disagrees with something I say, I will apologize for my choice of words and then rephrase it in a way that makes it seem like we were actually in agreement all along.
I will never contradict myself. I will sometimes contradict myself. I will often contradict you, usually in front of your clients, and then pretend to take a call on my phone while you handle damage control.
Asking employees to document and submit a log of their hourly activities does not count as busy work so long as I preface it by saying, “This is not intended to be busy work.”
I will drop names. I will drop them like they’re hot.
I believe that business is best done in person, which is why I never read important emails.
One of my opinions is worth three of your facts.
I will reward members of my team for good work with praise and other non-monetary forms of positive reinforcement. Examples of good work include responding to emails on weekends, agreeing with something I say in large group meetings, and belonging to a chapter of the same national fraternity as the one I was in.
I will challenge my team to solve the problems I unnecessarily created for them.
Every member of my team is unique and indispensable, so I will make it virtually impossible for them to be transferred or promoted.
The fact that I have an MBA from a third tier university means that I can use words like “market valuation,” “expected yield,” and “externality,” but rarely ever in the correct context.
I will lead my team, mostly through the elaborate maze of hoops I jump through while chasing a fictitious promotion which exists only so that upper management can keep me motivated to continue working 90 hour weeks.
I will be reliably late to meetings which I myself called and tagged on your calendar as “urgent,” and then need to leave early, preventing anything from being accomplished.
Jargon is not meaningless as long as it is strategic, measurable, and scalable.
I will make at least one effort per month to engage my direct reports on a more personal level, whether that means talking about sports, asking about their children, or telling them about my marital problems. The topic is not important, so long as I have demonstrated that I am not too proud to stoop down to their level for a few seconds.
I will become diabolically drunk with the slightest sip of power.
I believe my female employees deserve as much recognition as my male employees, which is why every time I compliment a male employee for his intelligence, I also compliment a female employee for her looks.
I will motivate my team to victory like a surgeon leading his soldiers into the championship game. When I have no idea what I am talking about, I will use an awkwardly-worded simile, which I will refer to as a metaphor.
I will form a super exclusive club with other middle managers where we only eat lunch with each other, share all sorts of inside jokes, require an elaborate secret handshake to enter each other’s offices, and wear matching rings which, when touched together, turn us into a single, giant super-manager with unlimited budget approval powers.
But if a promotion opens up, I will stab them in the back in a heartbeat.
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