Competent Manager

We are all assailed daily by interviews with movie and television stars, politicians and the otherwise rich or famous, most of whom are shilling for their latest “thing.” How often, however, do you encounter interviews with individuals you see yet don’t see every day — the “obscure celebrities”?

As a public service, I have assumed the guise of “QuestionMan” and scoured my immediate neighborhood to bring these well-unknown people to you. You’re welcome.

This interview subject is commonly referenced in the corporate world but rarely seen in real life. Yes, we’re speaking of that living oxymoron known as Competent Manager.

I can’t tell you how difficult it was to find you. I had begun to think that you were one of those “urban legends.”
Competent Manager: The ability to avoid potentially time-wasting situations is one of my traits. Believe me, you would not have succeeded, had I not decided to give one final interview before the end.

QM: The end?
CM: Yes, I’m afraid it’s curtains for competent management in this country. I’ve been on the endangered species list for more than two decades, but all efforts to save my kind have failed. I’m the last of my breed, and I’m dying.

QM: I’m very sorry to hear that. What happened?
CM: I guess you could call it a natural de-selection process. Management has seen increasing less capable individuals entering its ranks over the past 20 years or so. Consequently, competent managers’ attempts to pass skills and techniques to their successors have met with dismal failure. The “Peter Principle” has entered the endgame. Management personnel no longer rise to their individual levels of incompetence; they enter at that level.

QM: That’s pretty scary. Where are all the competent people going?
CM: Most of them are going into more creative areas in their avoidance of corporate ineptitude. I personally know a lot of bright young men and women who are leading comparatively rich and fulfilling lives as writers, artists and street mimes.

QM: That would explain why mimes have gotten so much better. What do you envision as the fate of corporate America if this trend continues?
CM: Oh, it will definitely continue. It’s gone too far to be reversed. Incompetent management will continue to undervalue its employees as interchangeable and easily replaceable cogs in their operations. Disillusioned workers will constantly move from job to job in fruitless search of a management structure capable of comprehending and appreciating their contributions. Rising employee turnover will continue to reduce output quantity as well as quality. Meanwhile, management will hold an endless series of meetings focusing on employee handbook revisions as the solution to declining production. In another 20 years, maybe less, I see the U.S. gross national product as being on a par with that of, oh, say, Belize.

QM: That’s harsh, but I guess you should know. Is there an up side?
CM: Well, I guess the United States is destined to have the most comprehensive employee handbooks in the world.

QM: That’s something, anyway.
CM: Hmm. You’re not in management, by any chance, are you?

QM: I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it might incriminate me. Besides, who’s the QuestionMan here?
CM: I think you’ve answered by question.

Adapted from Truth Is An Amusing Concept
Available on Amazon

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