The hypocrisy of bosses asking for ideas

I discovered the CBC Comedy The Newsroom a decade ago, while watching PBS late one night. I didn’t know what it was, but found the first season of this well written, darkly funny show thoroughly entertaining.

One favorite scene captures the hypocrisy of claiming you want ideas. Acerbic self-obsessed news director Finkleman asks his staff for new ideas, but rejects everything anyway.

Hasn’t everyone had a boss that has done this to them?

3 Responses to “The hypocrisy of bosses asking for ideas”

  1. Paul

    My current boss recently had a serious cancer scare, since then he’s started working part time. As a result of his new conditions he’s been asked to focus purely on management issues, and not concern himself with the specifics of development (purely because he’s not in the office).

    The trouble? He’s has very few skills as a manager. So he wants us to provide him with feedback and advice … So he gets a great advantage to the rest of us by working at home, while being our direct manager, and while putting the burden on us to tell him if he’s doing the right thing or not.

    It strikes me as ridiculous to put staff in such a situation, I just on’t understand what goes through managements head to think this is a good idea.

    So how much feedback has he taken on board and acted upon to make improvements? None.

    1. Jason

      I’ve had some luck with unskilled managers when I have them ‘lead from behind’. Just have him focus on figuring out what’s not going well and getting it taken care of. Training, cooperation from other depts, hardware shortages, etc. Get him to treat you like a customer of managerial services.

      In theory if he learns all the things that take a project off the rails, eventually he will learn to lead. In theory.

    2. Scott

      There’s the old saying:

      “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” – Truman

      Sometimes this trick helps, but it requires some manipulations to pull it off which might be worse than the problem you already have.

      In corporate jargon this problem of having incompetent managers is a skip-level problem, meaning it’s up to your boss’s boss to ensure the quality of your boss. They have to proactively seek out data that might suggest there’s a problem – but if they don’t it’s hard for them to know something’s wrong.

      Going above your boss to report on your boss can be a dangerous move, or safe, depending on the discretion of your skip level manager.


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