Thursday, January 14, 2010

On the Art of Shutting Up

There are some fights you can only win by not joining.

What do you do when that becomes the primary rule for getting along with a coworker? Or, even worse, a supervisor?

As an INTJ, I fit the profile of being frustrated with people who don't immediately follow what I'm saying. I don't want to have to explain everything, I simply want to go ahead and do my job, especially once I've figured out the solution to some complex problem.

I work in software, so maybe what I want to do is go over and actually talk to a colleague and get the answer to the one question we're waiting on to begin (or complete) some big project, instead of waiting for bug reports or specs or meeting after meeting between our supervisors, neither of whom actually understands wtf we're talking about.

Maybe what I want to do is use a new framework to build something so it will work right, and get around the technical difficulty we're currently facing.

Normally, good management involves delegating. Real delegating, in which you actually give authority along with responsibility. When you have a manager who can't delegate, because he can't stand letting someone else maybe make a mistake, or not knowing every detail of what's going on (even when he can't understand it), you've got a problem.

A great blog post I read a while ago about managing programmers points out the problem of pointy-haired bosses (when your reports don't respect your ability to judge their work, let alone to direct it). When this is combined with micromanaging by a boss who freaks out at the idea of delegating, you get to learn the wonderful Art of Shutting Up.

Suggestions are not made.
Explanations are not given.

Stuff just happens - or doesn't - outside the realm of what the pointy haired boss knows.

Especially when the boss is more concerned with how he looks than with whether we're getting stuff done.

Managers: take a look around. If only the new guy is making suggestions, you might want to think about that. Especially if he stops doing it in a few months, just like all the others did.


Blogger Samantha Wilde said...

Hey, sounds like domestic relations to me...
Anyway, how have I missed the boat and do not know what an INTJ is?
Tragically unhip I think.

1/18/2010 2:33 PM  
Blogger Tzipporah said...

LOL - it's my Meyers Briggs personality type: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging.

1/19/2010 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Vicki said...

Oh, work. There are always cases where bosses don't understand what their underlings are doing, or maybe do and the underlings underjudge them. I think the pointy-haired boss problem is common simply because it is common in the work world for a boss to be enormously under qualified technically compared to colleagues, especially if it's software-related.

1/19/2010 2:47 PM  

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