So you think you’re better than your boss?

During the last 20-or–so years, I had the opportunity to work for any kind of company, from the smallest to the quite big ones, ranging from luxury, to consultancy, to industry and finance. And everywhere I found people complaining about their managers.

Usually  middle management is the most negative about tactical and strategic decisions (or absence of decisions), and it is quite common to hear them stating that they would make better choices for the company.

Well, I am sorry to announce that they-we- are as a rule wrong.

As an example, try and think about an HR manager. You think his goal is to find and keep people that best fit the enterprise needs, so you think that every time a good employee leaves or is not satisfied about his job, the HR manager is missing his mission, right? Wrong!

The problem is you assume that the goal of the manager is –or should be- the enterprise benefit in terms of revenue and stakeholder’s happiness, while fact is that his purpose is his boss’ happiness.

If the HR manager’s  evaluation  is based upon personnel cost reduction, everything becomes clear: he is the right manager for the enterprise goal.

It is important to never forget that people, all but very few of them, act to maximize their own profit, in terms of money, prestige, power and give very little attention to the overall benefit.

Moreover, an organization usually acts just the same way. Just alike a living entity, it does not care about the well being of the parts, for its purpose is the benefit of the organization itself.

When individual’s actions somehow correspond to and organization’s goal (cost reduction and dissatisfied employees leaving), everything turns out working quite smoothly: the organization doesn’t care of a single loss in the process of getting its goal.

Problem arise when divergence occurs. But we have to be extra careful in evaluating divergence.

As an example,  let’s say a bunch of  entrepreneurs found an insurance company. They want a company acting for their purposes, that guarantees some of their risky businesses at a reasonable price. They have their own successful companies, they have little time to spend on insurance company and don’t really care to maximize the revenues: an even balance is ok. Let’s say the company hires a good marketing manager that starts thinking on campaigns to boost the company’s sales, pretending decisions and attention from the already overloaded entrepreneurs… Do you see the divergence? Indeed, the marketing manager is doing his job at his best… But that’s not what the company wants from him and somehow it will either  give up and be unsatisfied (and complaining he would be better than his boss) or be thrown out by the system.

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