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So You Want to Be a Manager?

Chapter 4: Arbitrarialityism



Inconsistency is key to keeping your workforce on its toes and preventing upper management from imposing too many concrete goals.

Arbitraryalityism is inconsistency raised to an art form: deviation, misdirection, and bamboozling swirled together in a kaleidoscope of fractured confusion, pointing every direction, at all times, and for no reason.

But how can a manager pull all of this off? The constant hoodwinking of staff, many of whom are smarter than you, and upper management, all of whom have the power to alter or dismantle your entire unit, can be an endless, exhausting marathon of planning and scheming—if you do it wrong.

The beauty of properly-implemented arbitraryalitiism is that the only ongoing task is to avoid making a recognizable pattern of your behaviour. For everything else, flip a coin, roll a dice, or comb through a dictionary to determine your answer. Is it the opposite of what you said yesterday? Perfect. Just don’t hop back tomorrow; go on a tangent instead.

Upper management wants performance plans? Must be time to move forward quickly with operations.

Need an update on ops? Must be time to look at reducing office waste and employee downtime.

Learn to enjoy this.

Maybe the different units need to use different colours of paper for their formal documents. Make sure at least half of these are difficult to read, and be sure to change them around at least once a month to “better align priorities.”

Constantly propose new initiatives as “priority ones.”

Champion worker comfort and have your staff spend an afternoon picking out new office chairs; put soft toilet paper in each stall, as well. Then refuse shipments when they arrive and switch the toilet paper back, citing unsustainable business costs that are spiraling out of control.

Demand change and complain bitterly about people not following existing processes.

Have a specialized unit developed to oversee a particular service (such as employee training) and then rail at your directors for not providing that same service within their own unit.

Hijack any opportunity your directors might have to speak about their unit’s work and redirect the conversation toward your own interests and vision.

Demand an almost continual schedule of meetings. Change the spend and focus at each one, along with your level of engagement. Be intense, be angry, be funny; spend an entire meeting on your Blackberry and then leave someone else to run things. Make demands, give gifts, ignore, and harass. Be consistent two days in a row now and again, just so they can’t come to count on your inconsistency.

Remember: you are the boss. When you do it, it isn’t being arbitrary; it’s setting a new direction.



Still need a laugh? Why not check out some of the past articles from Laugh at the World?

So You Want to Be a Manager? So You Want to Be a Manager? Chapter 2 So You Want to Be a Manager? Chapter 3: If You Build It, They Will Come So You Want to Be a Manager?  Chapter 5: Employee Motivation The Consultant The Bureaucrat The Office Nerd