One of the funniest things about life is the kind of people it throws up at different points of time. Just when you thought you had seen enough and all kinds, there’s always someone new waiting. The craziest is when it comes to managers. Considering that they eventually end up breaking or making your deal and life in the company, they are usually an underrated lot, who play a significant part in shaping your career and in many cases, your life. A good manager can help you grow in the same company and field, while a bad one can send you to better pays and jobs in a different company. Like all things however, managers are never permanent. The bad ones usually stay on longer, or so it seems, while the better ones usually move on. Well I guess the better ones usually find better opportunities or they have their own bad managers to deal with.
After 5 years in the professional arena, I came to believe that I had a jinx, or rather a curse of bad managers.
1. My first manager was what you’d typically call a worm, not because he was tubular, a parasite or for any such metaphorical reasons. He could usually twist his 40 year old body into unimaginable contortions all while leaning on the table and talking to you. He was generally a nice and amiable man though and one usually got the feeling he was not cut out to be a manager, and so he ended being a go-between or more simply an errand boy between his manager and his subs. Eventually he got tired of all the politics and quit the reds to go back to where he came from.
2. The second, although not my manager directly, came to influence me as much as one, simply because my manager above(1.) was mostly an errand-boy. This man can best be compared to a crocodile, and was indeed done so in a previous post. I guess that post more or less sums him up. If you haven’t read that before, I would highly recommend you do so. It provides valuable insight into the psyche of crocodiles.
3. The third one was a classic. He was hardly there to be seen. I almost missed writing about him here. The best thing about this manager was that he made even me feel slightly over-weight (I was 58 Kgs those days!). Having not been seen, I heard that the company eventually decided to get rid of him, but had much difficulty doing that as, well, they couldn’t figure out how to fire someone who doesn’t turn up to be fired. Eventually when they managed to do it, he asked for two whole months’ pay or for two months’ notice. He somehow convinced them to do the latter and the last few days I found him learning spoken English, before he disappeared totally.
4. The fourth man was someone who impressed me. He took over managing my team after the third one was forced off. Although I reported to him for a short period of time, he gave me a classic appraisal, something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. I was told that since I was new to the project, the time I spent ramping up (which he agreed was really short) would be considered as low performance and thus the average of the whole period would go down considering that period of ‘low performance’. I argued with him trying different approaches as to why his idea didn’t make much sense, but eventually when I got to the final destination he was ready to drag me off along his own. I came to learn the golden rule of the reds that the last thing that influences your performance appraisal is your performance itself.
5. The fifth was someone whom I’d probably recommend as a case study in managers. Capable of much walking between different floors, passing off ideas he heard from others as his own, even to the point of relaying arguments patiently between the floors as if his own and finally feeling happy about having convinced someone with someone else’s ideas. He was excessively pleased when people told him a bug or issue was someone else’s problem and eventually I had to rely mostly on this strategy to procure good raises and a promotion (For the record my salary went up by close to 60% and I got one promotion when he was manager.) He loved taking the odd afternoon nap in office and many weird noises where known to be heard during that time. We still don’t talk about the real cause of it. Over a period of time, however, he acquired a sense of humor which we found most disturbing at best. Requests for raises were met with “I haven’t received a raise in 3.5 years myself!”, which kind of left the asking party a bit speechless. Many agreed it was an interesting management strategy. He was generally the last person to help anyone in trouble, even subs who had been displaced from their vehicles and lying on the road. He was also known to be ambitious about netting something called GMPLS and leading a team which worked on it. Last heard however, he had moved to a different project, but people still speak about hearing something that sounded like “GMPLS” being uttered quite a few times during his afternoon naps.
Well, that’s about those in the reds. The current one, of course is a different story. Am already into my third manager now, and haven’t seen much to write about in them, which I guess is good in a way – not much idiosyncrasies to worry about for my daily life. Of course, the rule of thumb when it comes to managers is that management is not one-way, it happens both ways. How good your manager is depends on how well you manage him/her.