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Tall Tales of Misadventure


Fellow folks,

I am in the process of researching a tongue-in-cheek look at management/leadership/organisational mishaps and misadventures. The tales that I am interested in is the things that people/organisations do that are practically the opposite of so-called "best practice".

For example, the organisation that decided to have more fun at work: "We will have fun on a Friday!" declared the Chairman in the company newsletter. "What about the rest of the week?", asked one employee the following month. "You have a job to do...", was the reply.

Or the Director who has a dual personality, Hong-King Phooey style. At work he is the Boss From Hell. (To date over 15 tribunal claims for unfair dismissal). At home, he works for local charities, has raised nearly ?250,000...

Names and organisations will be protected, but if you have anything to share about people and companies that's made your jaw-drop or bang your head against the flip-chart, please share!

Contributors will receive a free copy of the Tall Tales.

Email us at [email protected] (or directly to me).

Kind regards,

Liam Dolan

Liam Dolan

9 Responses

  1. A Management Strategy?
    I witnessed some interesting behaviour from one of our premier management schools this summer.

    A behaviour that I have since discovered is not uncommon.

    The school wanted to reduce staff numbers but wanted to avoid making redundancy payments.

    They told a number of PA’s that they would be undergoing a process of change, which they took to mean that some of them would be made redundant, and their bosses were asked to reapply for their own jobs.

    This is an accepted “Best Practice” for getting rid of people without paying redundancy.
    It deliberately creates such a stressful situation that people start looking for other jobs and leave volountarily.

    I am happy to report in this instance that the management school were well and truly stuffed.

    The PA, and a number of others who had all found other jobs, accidently neglected to tell the school that they had found alternative employment.

    The result was that the college, when nobody left volountarily, were forced to announce their redundancies.
    Every single person made redundant took their payment then walked straight into a new job that they had already accepted.

    The college still had to make redundancy payments to the people it had always intended laying off but in addition it also had the expense of recruiting new staff to fill all the other posts of the people who had left because of the shoddy way the school had treated them and their colleagues.

    What goes around, comes around.

    Score one for the good guys.


  2. Entrepreneurs
    Entrepreneurial types are the worst: having run my own business and noticed my usually impeccable behaviour turn to regular naughtiness for the sake of profit, I understand the mindset, but I was never this bad…

    One director I worked for, about to interview a 26 year old, recently-married candidate for a vacant position, wrote ‘Maternity?’ on the CV he was planning to have on the desk in front of him (and her!) during the interview.

    This company sold medical devices that needed fitting to patients by a medically-qualified person for insurance purposes – who took an appropriate cut of the profit. The director above suggested I fitted the devices (I have no medical training), getting people to sign disclaimers in case anything went wrong. I politely declined…

  3. An example of mis-management
    Here is an example of a decision made by a line manager which is then overturned by her Sales Director.

    A line manager developed a team member to become a team leader in her department, this person clearly being suitable for the job. The chosen team member was a strong and well-respected personality, with good leadership qualities. When the position was agreed, the line managers decision to appoint her chosen person into the role was overruled by the Sales Director who judged another team member to be more suitable.

    This resulted in the Team Leader’s job being taken by a totally unequipped and unsuitable person, but who was a more compliant personality more inclined to fall in line with the Sales Director’s wishes. The Line Manager’s original choice left the company soon afterwards to work as a Team Leader with a competitor.

    This was a ‘power play’ situation which the Sales Director ‘won’ but the team and ultimately the company, lost out.

  4. the “good idea” from design
    Some years ago I was a quality engineer in a company that made medical imaging systems. One of these used a large and expensive crystal in lead box. Setting up an array of (from memory about 60) photomultipliers took a couple of weeks and during this time two heavy lead doors had to be opened. When open these were just a couple of degrees past vertical and often fell shut, destroying the crystal and losing several days work.

    One of the test technicians proposed a simple, removable wedge. He was ignored and the situation continued. One year later, the design department came up with the same wedge and won a management award.

    Guys on the factory floor aren’t supposed to have good ideas!

  5. I’m not here…
    I had a manager a few years back who I’ll call “Gary” obviously not his real name.

    When he joined the organisation I’d found “Gary” an inspiring and innovative guy but after a couple of weeks I soon discovered that he was an abject coward who would never put forward an idea of his own for adoption and would instead appropriate those of his team members put his own name on our reports and generally claim credit for everything and anything without doing a stroke of work himself.

    Finally after 6 months of working for this inept individual I asked one of the Director’s to help me address my issues with “Gary”.

    The Director duly sat us down and allowed me to unload all my frustrations on “Gary” in a full and frank manner. He asked “Gary” to think about what was said and to respond accordingly.

    Gary began with the line “Now Nik you know Gary thinks really highly of you. You have a lot of credit in the Gary-bank and I want you to know how valuable you are to Gary.”

    And for the next 45 minutes Gary spoke about himself in the third person – honestly I don’t know who laughed hardest me or the Director. Fortunately Gary was redeployed in another company a few weeks later.

  6. Managers behaving badly
    I once worked for a major company, who shall remain nameless.

    The call centre manager was a total and utter numpty, however, seemed to be constantly praised and well thought of by the gods.

    He was eventually promoted to buildings manager and instantly made his mark.

    He decided that smoking was to be banned throuhgout the premises both inside and out and decreed that should anyone be caught carry out such action shall be instantly dismissed.

    All well and good you may think!

    Two days following his anouncement the fire alarms went off, only this time it was not a test & Honking with rain (as it always does).

    Within 5 minutes two pumps and a turntable ladder turned up o what service. The women all going wild seeing all these uniformed men about causing quite a scene. Alas though where was our beloved man of the month?


  7. Christmas Eve Closing Time
    I once worked for a building society which prided itself on excellent training and regular communication with its staff.

    Each year, early in December, Head Office would tell the staff that if Christmas Eve fell on a week-day, they would have to work at the branch until 5pm, regardless of it being Christmas Eve.

    Staff were told that the ‘clever’ management strategy/reasoning behind this was that:

    “As we offer a service to customers, we have to provide each of them with every possible opportunity to pay money into the branches on Christmas Eve!

    At this point the majority of staff would wonder “Exactly who do they think they are kidding? They would only have to look at the various transaction logs to see that for December, in particular, there is simply far less money being ‘invested’ – most transactions are for taking money out.”

    Eventually, by about 3.30/3.45 pm, on Christmas Eve, a telephone call would be made by Head Office staff telling the branch manager that, on reflection, the Chief Executive had decided their staff could leave at 4.00pm.

    What staff summized was that Head Office, having rung round every other building society, knew we would not be closing before anyone else and that was the deciding factor in allowing ‘grateful staff’ to leave early!

    What a ‘non-perk’ taken at the expense of employees.

  8. Civil? Service Tales
    A few years ago the team I worked with had a not unusual Christmas party. T celebrate a little further, we arranged to meet up for a team breakfast the following morning in the staff canteen at 09:00. Breakfast usually takes 30 mins, it was Christmas eve and those on flexi could easily make the time up.

    Those who had to dutifully got in early, I turned up shortly after, being on leave, and we all met at the appointed time. The section head had been invited, but declined…still we had a great breakfast, and arrived back at our desks just after half past…to find an e-mail waiting for us…

    “In view of your unauthorised absence, I hereby give you notice of a formal disciplinary warning against attendance. Should this re-occur, restoring efficiency measures will be taken!

    This from our delightful section head! I was particularly aggrieved…I was being disciplined for turning up to work when I was on leave!

    He was without doubt a 24 carrot, grade A, 5* p**t…and that really is putting it mildly. Needless to say he had to withdraw his ‘threat’ to most of the team…but never apologised for what he did.

    Shortly after that I moved to another team…where I had considerable influence over my previous section heads’ director. Very soon after my departure, my pervious section head was moved to a position that ‘better suited his ability’ (I loved the use of the singular form of ‘ability!).

    Managers….who’d have them?

    Ohhh….and I have so many more tales to tell…like the motivational speech by our Assistant Director at the end of an enjoyable two day team build (that he hadn’t attended). By the time he had finished he had united the team more strongly that anyone would have thought possible…in their unanimous disgust at him & his petty attitudes! He did more harm to the team in five minutes than a whole year of discontent could have done!

    Come hear…there’s more…


  9. The Most Obvious
    I remeber an incident from my time in the Armed Forces from one of our inspiring leaders. As to whether it falls into the ‘best practice’ category I am not sure, unless best practice covers being a P***T. The ‘incident’ involved a piece of equipment that contained Liquid Oxygen under pressure, that decided one night to self destruct. In the morning when the early shift arrived they were faced with an area of utter devistation. The relevant people were notified, and when this senior officer arrived his first words were, whilst walking in all the debri “which one blew up then ?” he was politly told “the one all around you sir !” And to think I had to follow this person into war.


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