Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Peter Principle was right -- employees, employers, and employment

Three years of management experience at a large state university, that's what I've reached now. I've also hit a wall.

Some observations:

  • Leaders who rule by fear and crony-ism will be publicly revered and privately reviled. They will inspire backbiting and jealousy. Their management will be characterized by kindness to old friends and insipid attacks on those they see as less obsequious. Ultimately, this crony-ism will lead to poorly-run organizations where the team is less important than the policy.

  • True loyalty is inspired. It grows when a team functions as a unit and all members--from the highest to the lowest--are seen as essential components.

  • People who work as administrators at large state universities worry most about protecting their retirement accounts. Anyone who threatens that is the enemy, though that enmity sometimes is sly and hidden. Furthermore, these people could work anywhere; students are a nuisance to them. Except when they can help with some of the mundane office work. (All administrative office work is mundane.)

  • An employee will put everything he (or she) has into a project, as long as he (or she) feels valued. That same employee is not likely to complain about the occasional scut project, as long as he (or she) feels like the office is fun place to be.

  • Long-time administrators resent fun, unless it is their own. (For reasons that should be obvious, I will not get into how this plays into life in my particular office building.)

  • No one deserves to be abused for balancing life with work--particularly when they are getting their work done well and on-time.

  • No senior administrator likes to be out of the loop, but they rarely want to be in the loop. And they will always discover that they are out of the loop just in time to make life hell for everyone involved.

  • Many high-level administrators do not want to be troubled with mundane details. Yet it is the details that they most need to know to understand successes and failures--these are the details that will most come back to haunt a lower-level manager when the senior administrator decides to be unhappy.

  • Work can be fun. How sad that some employers--and employees--don't subscribe to this notion. How sad.

That's enough for now.