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Is Being Nasty a Requirement?
Old 05-23-2008, 06:08 PM   #1
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Is Being Nasty a Requirement?

I took an ER package from megcorp five years ago (at 45). I worked a few years at a utility and then went back to megacorp 18 months ago as a contractor. A lot of changes during the time I was gone, but the most notable change is some of the nasty traits of the female leadership (75 % of the leadership positions in our region are women). There are a couple of exceptions, but most of these women are bossy, demanding and impatient. DH seems to think that this is because they want to make sure they are being taken seriously - I think it is a lack of confidence and leadership skills. Funny thing - I'll break my back for someone that is fair, treats me with respect and still has high expectations and requirements of me, but when I'm disrespected and not listened to, then your project/request goes to the bottom of the pile.
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Old 05-23-2008, 06:37 PM   #2
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My experience was, that those traits belonged incompetent people put in positions for which they had no qualifications, except those quals which had nothing to do with the position. Gender had usually very little to with being a PITA.

Sometimes practicing creative incompetence will make them go away. It is one of the The Peter Prescriptions to deal with the Peter Principle pinnacle holders.
Sorry you are caught in the new management paradigm. Do hate that parsdxx word.

Mercifully I am retired.
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Old 05-23-2008, 07:02 PM   #3
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"The fish stinks from the head."
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Old 05-23-2008, 07:45 PM   #4
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Bossy, demanding and impatient describes most (though not all) of the senior management at our company - regardless of gender.
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Old 05-23-2008, 08:38 PM   #5
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In inherited a bossy b!+hy hateful female CFO some years ago. I had to send her away with an ER package. I usually prefer to think that those types of bosses are that way because their bosses were that way. In this case, it was not true (I knew the former CEO very well -the guy whose post I took upon his retirement-, and he was not that way at all). In her case, she was a very competent individual contributor, but a horrible manager, and I believe became the way she was because of her incredible competence with doing the work and impatience with anyone to whom she delegated that did not have the same competence from day 1. Part of it may have been that she was trying to show everyone who was the boss...when she didn't need to.

In my organization, and in this culture, there are few female managers. I have been trying to change this for our organization for years, but it is difficult to change a culture. I do have a small handful of female managers to whom I pay a little extra attention, hoping to grow them into directors and into role models for the other women in our organization. They are growing, doing well, and don't exhibit the nasty traits. Even though they are several layers down in the organization, I pay attention to them so that they don't feel squashed (and thus gain nasty traits) in a male dominated society.

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Old 05-23-2008, 10:16 PM   #6
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I read in one of those required self-discovery biz school readings that nastiness may not be a sign of power but rather a sign of uncertainty and insecurity. So the next time you're getting yelled at, look honestly in the mirror and note if you actually did mess up (it happens) or is there something else behind the episode.
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Old 05-24-2008, 04:11 AM   #7
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It can be the sign of inexperience (frustration and stress)... it can be learning curve. The more professional the job, the less one can/should dictate and the more one has to collaborate.

But it cuts both ways. I have seen direct reports that one has to baby sit. If the boss gets frustrated with it... they are too bossy.

Today, people are asked to do more with less and the challenges is difficult. If upper management does not recognized that they have passed the line of cost cutting/optimization and moved into causing damage... everyone begins to have problem... morale and conflict.
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Old 05-24-2008, 07:18 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Rambler View Post
In my organization, and in this culture, there are few female managers. I have been trying to change this for our organization for years, but it is difficult to change a culture. I do have a small handful of female managers to whom I pay a little extra attention, hoping to grow them into directors and into role models for the other women in our organization. They are growing, doing well, and don't exhibit the nasty traits. Even though they are several layers down in the organization, I pay attention to them so that they don't feel squashed (and thus gain nasty traits) in a male dominated society.
Bravo, Rambler! It's good to hear that you are one of those managers/officers trying to help women attain positions of leadership. It seems I just read about them in business magazines or business books--I haven't myself encountered or worked for such a manager. Who knows, though? Maybe in the bigger organizations where I worked, there were some far-removed up-there officers who were doing this, just unbeknownst to me.

Sometimes it is hard to have gone through management school and not have had any management experience like me because I have these high and idealistic expectations of what a good manager should be doing.

I feel the most comfortable with my current job, where my supervisor is at least not a micro-manager and gives me wide latitude to accomplish projects. Even so, he is bogged down with putting out fires that most of his focus is on those, with little or no time for staff development. I think that my being more mature and experienced makes it OK to sort of be on my own, but a younger, less-experienced employee would require more guidance and mentoring.

I have a friend who is a manager and she told me that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." The subordinates who ask for more (complain?) are the ones who get raises, projects, training. This has always been hard for me to do--I've gotten better with it over the years but it's always a hard thing to balance the asking for something and not being too demanding. The manager/supervisor is in the position of power and the subordinate is lucky if the manager uses this power benevolently.
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Old 05-24-2008, 08:36 AM   #9
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I also see it both ways and dont think it is a gender issue...it appears that the managers that have little knowledge of programs were I work end up doing "mandatory meetings" and the like and are generally pushy...
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Old 05-25-2008, 05:46 PM   #10
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I read in one of those required self-discovery biz school readings that nastiness may not be a sign of power but rather a sign of uncertainty and insecurity. So the next time you're getting yelled at, look honestly in the mirror and note if you actually did mess up (it happens) or is there something else behind the episode.
And if you're reviewing these thoughts while you're getting yelled at, make your best effort to wipe that stupid grin off your face.

Or so I've been told.
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Old 05-25-2008, 07:43 PM   #11
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And if you're reviewing these thoughts while you're getting yelled at, make your best effort to wipe that stupid grin off your face.

Or so I've been told.
Ah, even equanimity is forbidden for the galley slave. I'll do my best to have a contrite look on my face the next time. However, after seeing the same guy over react for the umpteenth time, I tend to register most of the fault on him.
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Old 05-26-2008, 03:35 AM   #12
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...
I feel the most comfortable with my current job, where my supervisor is at least not a micro-manager and gives me wide latitude to accomplish projects. Even so, he is bogged down with putting out fires that most of his focus is on those, with little or no time for staff development. I think that my being more mature and experienced makes it OK to sort of be on my own, but a younger, less-experienced employee would require more guidance and mentoring.
Yes, latitude to make decisions is good for knowledge workers where collaboration is required... and even in lower level jobs to a degree.

But I have seem workers who claim that they should have the latitude to make decisions, and their decisions are self serving... quick and dirty, short-term thinking.

In the boss world... managers will give more latitude to people who are really good. If there is something lacking, they are likely to get a bit more involved.

This is a tricky thing and takes experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flipstress View Post

I have a friend who is a manager and she told me that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." The subordinates who ask for more (complain?) are the ones who get raises, projects, training. This has always been hard for me to do--I've gotten better with it over the years but it's always a hard thing to balance the asking for something and not being too demanding. The manager/supervisor is in the position of power and the subordinate is lucky if the manager uses this power benevolently.
True. Most managers want happy employees... especially the strong performers. Of course, if one complains and they are a marginal performer, the manager is likely to resent the complaint and pay little attention to it.



There are surely poor managers, and there are poor performing direct reports... It cuts both ways.
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