Why is Your Boss Always Dumber Than You?
A friend and I were laughing about our treacherous days working in retail and we both marveled at how stupid our managers were.
“Why is it your bosses always seem to be dumber than you?” My friend asked me. I got to thinking, and I may have figured it out, believe it or not it has more to do with you than your boss.
I think our biggest mistake all these years was blaming the corporations. In truth, when you actually read the bylaws in the employee manual, most corporations have systems in place that ensure fair advancement. If everyone did as the paper told, things would run with ease. The problem really comes down to the human factor. The human factor being the way we naturally allow fear and insecurity to affect our decisions. Instead of blaming the corporations, we should blame ourselves. Why?
A leader needs minions, and his minions need minions, you agree? So how does insecurity and fear affect a leader? He’s at the top, he’s closest to the secrets that make his business unique. The last thing any leader wants is to train their future competition. So, to a point, a certain lack of ambition is a requirement in his potential minions. Someone who’s just good enough to do everything they’re asked, without the intelligence to put it all together into their own business plan.
Using the same logic, a regional manager will hire a slightly dumber District Manager and so on. We stunt each other’s growth, all the way down to the food chain, hoping to ensure we’re never replaced, even if that means making things worse.
Ages ago when I worked in retail, I had a store manager who was so good for the company that we had million dollar weeks almost all the time. He knew how to motivate the workers and keep everyone happy so of course they got rid of him. When I say “they”, I mean the other workers that were hoping to become store managers themselves. Sadly, it worked, some people stepped up, and others were transferred to become store managers at other facilities. In the many years since I worked there, the store still has not recovered from it and regularly loses money instead of making it.
Keep in mind, that’s not how the system was set up by the corporation. Incentive bonuses are given for a person to transfer to a new store or to take up the reins at a store that is struggling and the void left by that person’s absence can be filled by some aspiring leader. People, however, find ways to screw up any system. That’s kind of our “thing”. This great store manager’s mistake? He hired people too smart for his own good. He approached things in a way that made sense, and unfortunately he suffered for it.
The system wasn’t really the issue, it was the people in it.
But then we get to you, someone who sees just how stupid your boss is and you wonder? WHY? Why if stupid trickles DOWNhill, am I seeing stupid looking UPhill? Why are our bosses always dumber than we are? Two choices; fix yourself, or fix everything else. Which do you think we as people always pick first? Right, let’s mess with everything else, because that’s always worked in the past.
When you think about it, the only way to ensure a system works is to put up cameras and microphones everywhere and monitor people’s conversations and daily activities. To do so, you’d need a separate organization for the sole purpose of monitoring this information and reprimanding anyone who causes drama in the work environment. This would ensure that the people who advance aren’t the best connivers and conspirators, but the best leaders.
And when the connivers and conspirators found ways to manipulate that separate organization… well… you’d basically have the United States Government and all its politicians wouldn’t you?
Sadly, fear is what fuels our world and yet fear is the very thing that destroys it. It would appear the only true thing worth fearing in this world is fear itself… OH, nope, wait, we’ve already been down that road as well haven’t we? HA HA. Okay, well maybe then the focus should be on building a utopian socie- nope, communism, tried that… maybe a hybrid? Nope. Socialism. Maybe we should just say screw it and go back to the good old days of milking cows and an honest day’s wor… nope, the depression, that didn’t work either. In the same nature as government, corporations have tried their best, and many large behemoths have fallen.
I guess the only thing left to do is…stop caring. To worry only about ourselves… because if no system works, then we should at least get ahead any which way we can. This… obviously loops us back to the beginning of this article and how fear and insecurity causes people to position non-threatening associates around them so as to ensure their own job security… which hasn’t worked out so well for my old employers.
From what I can figure, detachment allows fear and manipulation to run rampant. It’s when people are detached from each other’s misery that they can add more misery to each other’s lives. So, a theory that I don’t think has been tried could be to put everyone on a rotation. Let a store manager swap with a zone manager, or even a cashier, for a day. A regional manager pushing a broom sounds fun doesn’t it? Just for a day, one day a year. That’s 365 chances in however many stores or offices for people to empathize with each other; great.
So, with all the analysis done by corporations… why doesn’t this happen all over the place? It can’t be that original of an idea. Again, we loop back to fear. What if in that one day the whole system falls apart? Right, because since presidents can’t destroy a country in four or eight years, a store manager might destroy a company in one day… duh. Then again, the leaders might get anxious with all that “togetherness” when you think about it. They might be funding a coup, right? All the togetherness and paychecks could add up to a business plan of their own used to break off and make a competing business… which is how we made Feudal Japan. So, shucks if we haven’t already been there too.
To prevent that, maybe create a need in your workers to spend their money, that way they always “need” you. They have the togetherness, but lack the funds. Maybe you act smugly towards their car, or their clothes, or their house so they always feel like they haven’t quite “made it” yet, and they can’t “make it” until all they’re doing is spending their money. That way, you can have a system that is improved without losing your employees or creating more competition… and now we’re at our current economic depression with people spending more than they make to buy crap they didn’t need in the first place.
Wow, thanks to people, you really just can’t win can ya?
So, really the key is for robots to take over the world so everything is coldly calculated and then, finally, things would function properly. Great… “Terminator” and/or “The Matrix” here we come. You may argue that in this new machine controlled world, nothing you do is by choice… but how much of your day is your choice anyway? Wow… that’s how you break the cycle huh? Robots. But that won’t realistically happen for quite some time, probably well after we’re dead.
So, right now, here and now, what the hell can ya do?
If you’re asking, I’d say, forget about the systems and how people ruin them, but accept human nature, it’s the one thing we can’t change.
We’re hierarchal people. Socially; we kind of replicate wolves, with a business being the “pack”. Everyone serves a purpose, and two people trying to serve the same purpose will compete to be the one who fills that role.
Get to know the people you work for. Are you smarter than your department head? Are you smarter than his boss? Keep going up the ladder until you meet someone you have respect for. Save for their experience, you could consider them an equal. Learn from them. What’s their position? That’s where you belong. What would you need to do to get to that position? How many different businesses have that same position? Work your way up to be that individual’s assistant with the intent of transferring to a sister location performing that role. Each is a new chance to get that position. Some of you will get to the top of that corporate ladder and realize, some way, somehow, you’re naturally a leader, others will find they are naturally a Vice President or “second in command” and that’s where they want to be, that’s what they’re naturally meant for. Some belong at the bottom of the food chain, it’s just the way it is.
Forget about status, forget about impressing people, or feeling like you’ve “made it” and ask yourself “Where do I fit?” Where you fit, that’s probably congruent with your purpose as well.
Yet again, we return to the beginning of this article. Instead of blaming the system, instead of blaming people who screw the system up, we should blame ourselves. When the dust settles, if you’re looking at your boss and saying to yourself “What an idiot.” fear and insecurity has already affected your life. You’ve already settled for less.
Sometimes, simply seeing where you want to end up gets you there. Measure your progress in idiots, is the idiot you work for now smarter than the last idiot? Great, you’re moving in the right direction. Keep going that way.
I worked for complete morons, then I got fired by complete morons, now I make more money than those morons, and what do you know? I’m working for someone a lot smarter than those morons. Imagine where I’d be had I realized this sooner?
Well, that’s my theory anyway.
Thanks for reading.
Copyright 2011 Kephra Rubin