Supervisors

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

relative_entropy
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:33 am UTC

Supervisors

Postby relative_entropy » Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:08 am UTC

I wanted to share some thoughts that I had about supervisors. This has been on my mind for some time now, and I'm curious to see what other people think of this.

1. Everyone makes mistakes. To err is human. No human being is perfect.

2. When I say "mistakes," I'm talking about small mistakes, like, spelling a word wrong, using the wrong word, calling someone by the wrong name, making a grammatical error, or making an error in punctuation.

3. Most adults have a job, and most people have a supervisor at their job.

4. The supervisor and the employee both make mistakes once in a while, because the supervisor and the employee are both human.

5. Some supervisors like to point out their employees' small mistakes. The supervisor will draw attention to the mistake. "You made a mistake." "You spelled that word wrong." "You need to fix that." "That should be X instead of Y." These type of messages might be delivered with a harsh tone. All of this is considered socially acceptable.

6. The supervisor also makes small mistakes, because the supervisor is human. But, many supervisors will not acknowledge their own mistakes. Furthermore, if the employee notices that their supervisor has made a mistake, the employee is not allowed to say anything. The employee is not allowed to point out the supervisor's mistake. The supervisor and the employee both pretend that the supervisor's mistake never happened. Pointing out your supervisor's mistakes is considered socially unacceptable.

7. As time goes on, both the supervisor and the employee will continue to make mistakes on a regular basis. Again, we know this because the supervisor and the employee are both human, and to err is human.

It seems strange to me that we, as human beings, enter into these relationships. It's almost like a game that two people play, where one of the rules of the game is "You make a lot of mistakes, but I don't make any mistakes!" All the while, the truth is that the supervisor and the employee are both fallible human beings, who are both making errors on a regular basis. We are all human and we all make mistakes, so it seems very strange that two people should enter into a relationship where one person's mistakes are highlighted and dramatized, while the other person's mistakes are completely hidden.

By the way, I would like to add that not every supervisor acts like this, constantly pointing out their employees' mistakes. It is a sign of the supervisor being a perfectionist. They are being nitpicky. It might also be a sign that the supervisor is insecure and narcissistic. In my personal job experience, I have had some supervisors who behaved this way, and I've had others who didn't.

So far, I've talked about small mistakes, but I could lay out a similar argument regarding big mistakes, or bad behavior in general. If a supervisor believes that an employee is behaving badly, the supervisor will talk to them about it, and this is considered normal. But what if the supervisor is behaving badly? The employee isn't allowed to say anything about their supervisor's bad behavior. So, again, it becomes a game of "Your behavior was bad, but my behavior was never bad!" Why do we, as a society, accept this? In my experience, it was extremely frustrating for me when my boss was making mistakes but then never acknowledging them, and blaming me for all the bad things that happened, and I couldn't say anything about it.
“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” - Joseph Joubert

User avatar
PAstrychef
for all intimate metaphysical encounters
Posts: 2931
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 6:24 pm UTC

Re: Supervisors

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:22 am UTC

Ah, but most supervisors have others that they report to, and who are watching them. So your immediate boss may well be getting the same treatment from her boss.
Much of human endeavor is organized hierarchically, with jobs closely spelled out and power (and responsibility) flowing from the top down. Within that structure, criticism can only follow the flow of power. So it’s not that supervisors are error free, but that they are corrected by someone higher in the organization.
Some organizations are highly invested in this structure, such as the military. Some are not.
In some ways, the “free market” is the end supervisor for a business-if the business makes too many mistakes customers will let it know. Or at least that’s the theory.
Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a puffer fish.

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 4974
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Supervisors

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:40 am UTC

I'm a supervisor of sorts. Nobody is my employee exactly, but some outside contractors who work for my boss report to me as their liaison with our company, and my boss expects me to make sure that they're doing their work for us correctly.

Sometimes I make mistakes in my work, and then when those outside contractors I supervise end up working with my work in the course of their work, they notice those mistakes, and usually fix them when they find them, or if it's not clear if it really is a mistake or on purpose, ask me if I'd like them to fix them. I like that, because it makes me look good to my boss, because whether the mistake is theirs or mine, I'm the one who hears about it if my boss notices.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

User avatar
Zohar
COMMANDER PORN
Posts: 8271
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:45 pm UTC
Location: Denver

Re: Supervisors

Postby Zohar » Tue Aug 21, 2018 2:17 pm UTC

relative_entropy wrote:5. Some supervisors like to point out their employees' small mistakes. The supervisor will draw attention to the mistake. "You made a mistake." "You spelled that word wrong." "You need to fix that." "That should be X instead of Y." These type of messages might be delivered with a harsh tone. All of this is considered socially acceptable.

6. The supervisor also makes small mistakes, because the supervisor is human. But, many supervisors will not acknowledge their own mistakes. Furthermore, if the employee notices that their supervisor has made a mistake, the employee is not allowed to say anything. The employee is not allowed to point out the supervisor's mistake. The supervisor and the employee both pretend that the supervisor's mistake never happened. Pointing out your supervisor's mistakes is considered socially unacceptable.


You're making a lot of assumptions here that don't often apply, and it makes me feel like you've had bad luck with supervisors. I've always felt very comfortable to point out errors my supervisors have made, and generally I've been receiving constructive criticism from supervisors as well. Also I've supervised people who were just not great at some aspects of their jobs and needed to improve.
Mighty Jalapeno: "See, Zohar agrees, and he's nice to people."
SecondTalon: "Still better looking than Jesus."

Not how I say my name

User avatar
Thesh
Made to Fuck Dinosaurs
Posts: 6301
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: Supervisors

Postby Thesh » Tue Aug 21, 2018 2:32 pm UTC

In my experience, as corporations get larger and hierarchies get deeper, office politics becomes more prominent. Blaming subordinates and praising superiors increases your chance of climbing the ladder, and so the working environment degrades.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Supervisors

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Aug 21, 2018 3:06 pm UTC

Bad bosses are unfortunately common, and often some of the pettiest are found on the low end of the pyramid, where they make the most of their modest power to make themselves feel important.

This isn't necessary or desirable. In a more healthy relationship, both parties are free to bring up concerns, and ought not get fixated on every small detail. Ideally, rather than focusing on blame, folks work towards solutions. The goal isn't to say "you're a shitty worker", but to make sure that a particular problem doesn't recur.

I've certainly had a wide range of bosses, and it occurs to me that a lot of folks are promoted to being a boss without any particular training for doing so, and the sort of folks you notice as difficult are likely inexperienced at leading others, and attempting to compensate via reinforcing their "superiority".

One fix is to, whenever possible, attempt to interview with the team you'll be working with during the job application process. Figuring out if you'll have a crappy boss up front can save a lot of hassle.

User avatar
Zohar
COMMANDER PORN
Posts: 8271
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:45 pm UTC
Location: Denver

Re: Supervisors

Postby Zohar » Tue Aug 21, 2018 3:19 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:In my experience, as corporations get larger and hierarchies get deeper, office politics becomes more prominent. Blaming subordinates and praising superiors increases your chance of climbing the ladder, and so the working environment degrades.

Certainly the most dysfunctional management I've encountered was in the 40-person company I worked on, not the 1,500-employee corporation I worked at, or the 25,000 one, or the non-profit in NY with ~30K employees or the non-profit here with ~1K employees.
Mighty Jalapeno: "See, Zohar agrees, and he's nice to people."
SecondTalon: "Still better looking than Jesus."

Not how I say my name

User avatar
Thesh
Made to Fuck Dinosaurs
Posts: 6301
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: Supervisors

Postby Thesh » Tue Aug 21, 2018 3:56 pm UTC

In smaller companies, the main problem I've encountered is micromanaging from executives and disorganization. The office politics didn't really come into play, so much as excessive meetings and a lack of planning.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

User avatar
Zohar
COMMANDER PORN
Posts: 8271
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:45 pm UTC
Location: Denver

Re: Supervisors

Postby Zohar » Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:14 pm UTC

YMMV of course, but in my case it was just incredibly poorly managed. I much preferred having a large organizational structure with clear and consistent policies on how people should be treated.
Mighty Jalapeno: "See, Zohar agrees, and he's nice to people."
SecondTalon: "Still better looking than Jesus."

Not how I say my name

User avatar
Thesh
Made to Fuck Dinosaurs
Posts: 6301
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: Supervisors

Postby Thesh » Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:50 pm UTC

The worst managed company I worked at was a small SaaS provider. The biggest problem was that they were driven by the marketing department rather than customer service, but there were also a lot of growing pains and trying to go from no real management to lots of management. When I went from tech support to development in the SaaS provider, I fixed all the bugs that customers had been calling in day after day about for my entire tenure as a support rep. Personally, I find I get the best results when I work directly with the person who requires my work.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Supervisors

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Aug 21, 2018 4:59 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:YMMV of course, but in my case it was just incredibly poorly managed. I much preferred having a large organizational structure with clear and consistent policies on how people should be treated.


This is my experience in the tech industry.

I don't know that it's true for other industries. Retail, say...you can be part of a large chain, and still have garbage management. Circuit City was pretty dysfunctional in my experience. Of course, they're dead now, so...probably a reason for that.

But in general, management burning through expensive, hard to recruit people by treating them like crap seems to be a bit less tolerated.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7508
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Supervisors

Postby Zamfir » Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:36 pm UTC

One problem with smaller organizations is that you quickly deal with the Bosses. The unaccountable top that only goes down if the whole organisation goes down, or if they have conflict with each other. That can be owner-managers, though I have seen plenty of non-commercial organizations where the leadership seems similarly welded in place. And around them there’s this zone where "who is more popular with the Bosses" counts more than anything else.

It might be less deep and convoluted as large-org office politics, but it's not an improvement, IME. The top-level politics of large orgs might combine the worst of both worlds, but that zone is much easier to avoid.

User avatar
Euphonium
Posts: 162
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:17 pm UTC
Location: in ur bourgeois bosses' union, agitating ur workers

Re: Supervisors

Postby Euphonium » Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:08 pm UTC

At the very least, large companies have competent, professional HR departments. HR's mandate is to protect the company, but as professionals they understand that that means putting a stop to any shit that can expose the company to a major legal judgment. So in my experience they're usually pretty good about telling abusive managers to shape the fuck up.

Small companies, meanwhile, suffer from the small-business-owner entitlement mentality: "I'm the boss and I'm a job creator and I can do whatever I want and you should be grateful to me!"

Small business owners are the fucking worst.

User avatar
Ranbot
Posts: 207
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:39 pm UTC

Re: Supervisors

Postby Ranbot » Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:38 pm UTC

While complaining about bad supervisors, we should also remember bad employees exist too. Doing stupid, destructive stuff is not exclusive to either. My wife used to manage a team of well-paid business "professionals" (~60k-90k salaries) who did, said, and tried to get away with so much dumb shit. She was an adult baby-sitter... drama, lies, sexual harassment between co-workers, inappropriate attire, missing work, mental health issues, cleanliness, not understanding basic concepts of the business and customer service, and sometimes just pure fucking laziness; but you can't just say say that employee sucks at their job, is dragging the rest of the team down, and should be fired, even though that's the basic truth. Now, her bosses didn't do anything to help the situation either and owner's only interest was string things along until he could sell the company, so there was dysfunction all along the chain. She quit that job. She now works for a very large company, she doesn't manage anyone, has basically the same pay/benefits, and is much happier.

Euphonium wrote:At the very least, large companies have competent, professional HR departments....

Small companies, meanwhile, suffer...

Generally true. Small companies can be good but the spectrum of good to bad is much more broad than large companies. Opportunity for advancement can be better at small companies if they are growing, but it's good to have an exit plan ready.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests