IN TODAY’s Silly, A Dill Horin writes about bad bosses and addresses the topic with a vehemence the casual reader might conclude can only be the result of harsh personal experience. Now this is a real curiosity, as A Dill has spent her working life in the service of just one employer, Fairfax. Indeed, she is a little piece of that company’s institutional memory. Her insights were first gifted to the reading public by the original National Times, the forest-products version, which has much to answer for. David Marr, Marian Wilkinson and A Dill – all are graduates of that defunct publication, and not one has ever deviated from the exclusionary arrogance and didactic dementia which, back then, characterised just that one weekly corner of the Fairfax empire.
Today, as many former Fairfax readers have recognised, the attitudes and perspectives have infected and colonised the entire group. Purchase tomorrow’s Sun-Herald, a mass market product ostensibly aimed at the widest possible readership, and you will see the consequences: a paper filled with the preciousness and picayune fancies of those who produce it, rather than the interests of those who no longer buy it. (According to a friend of the Billabong, a former Fairfax employee, the Sun-Herald once sold in excess of 800,000 copies every Sunday; the latest figures barely exceeds half that number). Whatever A Dill’s experience of bad bosses, her personal perspective would seem to have been shaped not by bullies but buffoons forever prepared to indulge subordinates’ peculiar disdain for all unlike themselves. If A Dill has ever encountered a boss who took her to task for that attitude, word of such an encounter would come as an immense surprise.
And it also would appear she has never met a boss who reminded her that she is paid for original thought, not simple mastery of her keyboard’s CONTROL + C function. In today’s column, for example, she lists some of bad bosses’ defining deficiencies:
Here are some other traits bad bosses are unlikely ever to admit:
They are control freaks and micro managers.
They are pushy and overbearing.
They cling to plans and opinions despite overwhelming evidence that they're dead wrong.
They won't protect staff from the idiocy raining from above.
They hog the credit.
Now where would A Dill have acquired such a scorecard? Click the following link, follow the prompt and observe the similarities to the content of a web site operated by American author and management guru Robert Sutton.
Now it is true that A Dill acknowledges Sutton two paragraphs subsequent to the list of points she has borrowed from him, which is probably enough with her light paraphrasing to see the charge of full-blown plagiarism dismissed, at least on the strength of this one exhibit. But when you dive a little deeper into the dribble of A Dill’s thoughts, it is the unintended irony of the following passage that is perhaps the most striking element of A Dill’s effort.
Bosses are not the only ones to suffer from lack of self-knowledge, of course. All of us do to some extent unless we have been through therapy or a crisis that reveals uncomfortable truths about ourselves.
The “uncomfortable truth” about A Dill is that she needs one of those “bad bosses” in the worst possible way – someone prepared to point out that originality is a condition of employment.
UPDATE: A little more borrowing.
A DILL in the Silly: NetApp topped Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2009 and a month after the ranking appeared announced it was laying off 6 per cent of employees. Google, top-rated by Fortune in 2008, also shed hundreds of full-time workers.
SUTTON in The Harvard Business Review: NetApp, declared number one in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for 2009, announced it was cutting loose 6% of its employees less than a month after the ranking appeared. Google, top-rated by Fortune in 2008, has shed hundreds of full-time employees.