I’ve been buried by work lately, as the current project is in a serious time crunch. During this time, however, I’ve been reflecting on what a huge difference the workplace can be depending on what type of people are managing the process.

In my last job, my manager, the CTO, managed people by asserting the following traits:

  • Availability – He always made time to talk about your work
  • Humiliation – He made examples of people by picking apart their code and mildly ridiculing them in front of others
  • Completeness – All issues were rigorously examined and adequately planned, and plentiful tools /processes were in place to ensure efficiency
  • Defensiveness – Any display of superior ability or ambition was squashed in effort to assert his authority
  • Fairness – Everyone was treated equally, whether the treatment was positive or negative
  • Detached – An unattainable level of robotic performance was expected – whether speaking about issues, or delivering work

Some good traits, some bad traits.

In my current job, things are handled differently. Again there are good and bad issues.

  • Support – As long as people work hard, any slip in the deadline of a project is handled professionally and clinically without blame being placed
  • Chaos – A huge void in tools and processes makes efficient use of time virtually impossible
  • Accountability – People are held accountable for their work and any failure is handled justly and appropriately
  • Micro Managing – Constant interruptions and focusing on minor issues disrupts a steady flow of work being produced
  • Fairness – Everyone is treated equally well (a core value of the company is Fun – that’s right, a core value)
  • Infrastructure – The availability and performance of the network , servers, and monitoring staff is, in my opinion, unacceptably poor

Weighing the pros and cons of each company, I’d much rather work for my current employer even though there are days I’d easily strangle people with a smile on my face, and then go have a great night’s sleep. However, the number of days that I leave content and even happy are far greater. Different strokes for different folks. There are people who have been working at my previous employer for over 7 years and have no plans on leaving.

As to the title of the post, I’ve often wondered what leads a person to believe that humiliation of the staff is a truly effective way to motivate them.

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