26 April 2018 (Thursday) - Reflections on Management
I spent much of today thinking of times and people long gone, and being grateful I’m not the boss any more. It was all sparked of when my piss boiled as I listened to the radio this morning.
When I first started working in blood tests (in 1981) the boss was a senior chief medical laboratory scientific officer. When I moved hospital in 1984 there was another of those running the show in the place I moved to. When he retired his successor was a biomedical scientist grade 4. He was succeeded by a head biomedical scientist. I'm currently under the command of one of those.
For all that I've had trivial gripes with some of them over the years, they have all been people who know what is going on in the workplace. The clue is in the job title. They are senior people who have worked up through the profession they manage, and who know the job. You could go to any one of them with a professional problem and they would have the experience to deal with whatever issue might have arisen.
However during the 1990s there was a dodgy few years when the numero uno honcho was a "business manager" (!) Knowing nothing about the actual job, they were professional managers who would fart around in an office whilst those who got their hands dirty were actually running the show.
Dear old Gary was my first. He was someone we laughed at. He clearly didn't know his bum from a hole in the ground, and he would cover up his utter lack of knowledge of the department he claimed to manage by spouting endless meaningless management catch-phrases.
He was replaced by someone equally clueless who whenever faced with a workplace problem would use his catch-phrase of “I don’t do details”.
Thankfully the era of professional managers didn't last long in my world. But things would seem to be different for the water companies.
There was one such woman on the radio today. She'd been wheeled on to answer the criticism that twenty per cent of the nation's water supply vanishes into leaks. She glossed over the matter entirely and spent ten minutes wittering endlessly using words such as "contingency planning" and "fit for the future" whilst at no stage actually saying anything.
I was reminded of dear old Gary who once ordered me to a meeting at which we would decide our “strategic position” for another meeting. The fact that the outcome of this meeting for which we were planning had already been decided was a matter of the utmost indifference to him...
I was never very good as a manager. I always fell in to the trap of thinking that managing something was synonymous with running it.
After listening to the radio this morning I despair for the nation’s water supply.