Article 43



Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Asshole Factory

Our economy doesn’t make stuff anymore. So what does it make?

By Umair Haque
April 21, 2017

My good friend Mara has not one but two graduate degrees. From fine, storied universities. Surprise, surprise: the “only job” she was able to find was at a retail store.

Hey - it’s only minimum wage, but at least shes working, right? And at a major-league, blue-chip company, An American icon; an institution; a name every man, woman, and child in this country knows; an historic company that rings of the American Dream the world over, besides. Surely, if nothing else, it’s a start.

Perhaps you’re right. Maybe it isn’t the start she always dreamed ofbut at least it is one. If so, then awaits her at the finish?

What is Mara’s job like? Her sales figures are monitored… by the microsecond. By hidden cameras and mics. They listen to her every word; they capture her every movement; that track and stalk her as if she were an animal; or a prisoner; or both. Shes jacked into a headset that literally barks algorithmic, programmed, “orders” at her, parroting her own “performance” back to her, telling her how she compares with quotas calculated… down to the second - for all the hundreds of items in the store… which recites influence and manipulation “techniques” to her - to use on unsuspecting customers… that sound suspiciously like psychological warfare. It’s as if the NSA was following you around… and it was stuck in your head… telling you what an inadequate failure you were - psychologically waterboarding you… all day long - every day, for the rest of your life.

Mara’s boss sits in the back. Monitoring all twelve, or fifteen, or twenty people that work in the store. On a set of screens. Half camera displays, half spreadsheets; numbers blinking in real-time. Glued to it like a zombie. Chewing slowly with her mouth open. Jacked into a headset. A drone-pilot piloting a fleet of human dronesŅpressure-selling disposable mass-made shitas if it were luxury yachtsŅthrough robo-programmed info-warfarelike zombiesŅto other zombieswho look stunnedŅlike they just got laser blasted, cluster-bombed, shock-and-awed


It’s bananas. The whole scene is like a maximum-security mental asylum designed by sadomasochists in a sci-fi movie. If Jeffrey Dahmer, Rasputin, and Michael Bay designed a store together, they couldn’t do any better. Her job will begin to drive her crazy,paranoid, depressed, deluded - in a matter of years if she continues doing it. No human psyche can bear that kind of relentless, systematic abuse.

Now. Note what all the technology and bureaucracy that wonderful, noble company has invested hundreds of millions in does’t ask her to do. Learn. Think. Reflect. Teach. Inspire. Lead. Connect. Imagine. Create. Grow. Dream. Actually serve customers. Heaven forbid. It just beats her over the head, over and over again, three times a minute, every twenty seconds, with how much she hasn҅t sold; hasnt made; hasnҒt produced. For her shitty .0003% commission. According to the quota thats been set for her. By her boss. For his boss. For their boss. And so on all the way up the food chain.

See my point? Mara’s job isnt to benefit customers. It isnҒt to educate, understand, listen to, or even to chat with them. It isn’t to stop them from buying what they donҒt want; to help them find what they might need; to match them with the right stuff. Nope. Its merely to push more and more and more and more shit at themҒfaster, meaner, and dumber than any sane person would think is humanly possibleusing advanced military technology and techniquesŅ programmed to abuse herso she can wage advanced psychological warfareŅon her customers. And they were just suckers, gaping maws, fools, marks. And be yelled atby a robotŅif she doesnt.

Really? This is the best our economy can do? To take the stuff of 21st century warfare and use them them toŒrack up the profit? To turn a bright young woman with two grad degreesinto a Superprofitable Human Weapon of Mass ConsumptionŅa half-crazed algorithmically-programmed assholea human droneŅso even bigger, actually crazy assholescan get super-richŅby slinging entire supertankers full of junkat people getting poorer at four thousand percent interest a yearŅby using drones and bots to wage psy-warfare against themso theyŅre conned into buying too much?

The economy doesnt make stuff anymore. That much you know. So what does it make?

It makes assholes.

The Great Enterprise of this age is the Asshole Industry.

And that’s not just a tragedy. It is something approaching the moral equivalent of a crime. For it demolishes human potential in precisely the same way as locking someone innocent up, and throwing away the key.

Consider Mara again. Who in Christ’s name would design such an inhuman system? Whose sick joke of an idea is a store like that? What do you even call it? Because it’s surely not a store.

Only a monstrous asshole of the highest order could assemble such a demonically vampiric bullshit machine to prey oneveryone. Customers, managers, workers alike. Such a carefully sophisticated engine of human misery; of finessed cruelty; all to rake in a few extra pennies an hour, at the expense of dignity, intelligence, creativity, commitment, fairness, craft, service, sovereignty҅sanity.

The store is an Asshole Factory.

Allow me to explain.

What happens to Mara when shes Œdoing her job? Think about it for a second. She turns into precisely the kind of asshole that the heartless dweebs who thought up this infernal torture-machine no doubt already are. Not because she wants to. But because she has to.

ThatӔs exactly what the store was designed to do. Turn everyone into the same kind of asshole as the assholes that made it, run it, and benefit from itwant everyone to be.

The store is an Asshole Factory.

Our world is now full of Asshole Factories. That҅s what the stores, offices, industrial parks, skyscrapers, malls, low-rise blocks, gleaming headquarters, whimsically designed corporate campuses, really are.

Its the grand endeavor of today. We donҒt make stuff anymore. We make assholes. The Great Enterprise of this age is the Asshole Industry.

Consider, for a moment, my tiny hypothesis.

Have you noticed, lately, that people seem to be more, well, assholishthan before? That everywhere you go, people seem to be meaner, nastier, dumber, angrier, more brutish?


It is the last and greatest industry left in an economy that has been impoverished, emptied, hollowed out, drained.

The Great Enterprise of the Age of Stagnation is the wholesale manufacture not of great, world-shaking, ground-breaking ideas, inventions, concerns...but of bigger and bigger assholes.

The chain-store; the mall; the hypermarket. The corporation; the firm; the partnership. B-school; law school; med school. The boardroom; the backroom; the trading floor.

These are, by and large, Asshole Factories. They don’t make people. Capable of great things. Who create and build and touch and soar. They make assholes.

They are designed to disinfect us of our fragility. To cleanse us of our flaws. To disinfect us of weakness. Love, grace, mercy, longing, forgiveness, passion, truth, nobility, dreams. Their objective is to stamp all that out; to eradicate it; to erase it. To replace it with calculation, ruthlessness, self-concern; gluttony; cruelty; anxiety, despair. By using the most sophisticated technology ever made to subjugate, oppress, and goad us into being little torturers ourselves.

And in so doing, they emotionally sterilize us. They psychically traumatize us. They intellectually castrate us. They socially neuter us. They cheat us of greatness. That is how they turn us into assholes.

They are designed to deprive us into depriving everyone else of the lives we could and have, at our highest and truest and noblest.

The assholes haven’t just taken our incomes, our savings, our careers, our educations. They’ve taken something far more precious; something priceless. It is our lives - the full, true lives we should be living, that have been taken from us. And in the gaping void where the lives we should be living are, the assholes have deftly inserted carbon copies of… themselves.

When you think about it that way - is it any wonder that society seems to be stuck? That the economy seems headed into oblivion? That life for so pretty much anyone under the age of 35 and/or worth less than $20 million or so appears to be going… nowhere?

Remember my friend Mara? Shes probably being piloted like a drone… yelled at by a bot… three times a minute… into waging advanced techniques of psycho-war… designed to traumatize prisoners… over and over and over again - right this very second.

Until she’s cleansed. Perfect. Flawless. Pure. Another gleaming, brand-new asshole, rolling proudly off the assembly line of the Asshole Factory.

We’re obedient constructivists. Pragmatists. Rationalists. So you probably want to know: what can we do about it?

Its pretty simple.

Don’t be an asshole. Remember the Asshole Factories? Here’s a secret: they’re churning out assholes by the millions. And so should you bravely decide to be an asshole, what you’ll really be is just another interchangeable, forgettable, rapidly depreciating commodity.

So who should you be?

Be yourself. The person you were meant to be. Whether you believe in heaven or the inferno, freedom or fate, the simple fact is: each and every one of us was put here to be something greater than Just Another Asshole stealing pennies from his neighbors to pay off Even Bigger Assholes.

So let me say it again. Don’t be an asshole. Be yourself. The miracle of being that you were meant to be. A person that, consumed with passion, seared with happiness, aglow with meaning, brings forth all that is great, noble, and true in the world, and so, with love, mercy, and wisdom, lifts every life that you meet into the light.

Thank you and goodbye.


Posted by Elvis on 04/27/17 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

My Job Nearly Drove Me To Commit Suicide

image: wish i were dead

My job nearly drove me to commit suicide

By Heather Long
July 16, 2016

Darryl Warren had what many consider a dream job: he sold BMWs.

Warren entered the world of luxury cars and wealthy clients at age 50. It seemed a step up from his many years in sales at pharmaceutical and food service companies. In his first year, Warren was a top seller at a dealership outside Charlotte, North Carolina. He brought home about $70,000.

In his second year, Warren says he sold more cars but was paid $10,000 less. The BMW sales floor was hypercompetitive with a “Hunger Games” feel. A typical day started at 9am and ended at 9pm, or whenever the last customer left. Salesmen regularly worked six days a week, sometimes seven at the end of the month.

“I don’t know if it’s illegal the way these companies do it, but it’s immoral,” Warren told CNNMoney. “They literally work people to death.”

His body broke down. It started with back pain. Then came the panic attacks, the blood pressure medication and anti-depressants. Most days, life proceeded like this: work, come home late, drink a “fat glass of liquor,” make small chat with fiancee, then pass out. For the first time in his life, he had suicidal thoughts. Warren quit in May at the urging of his fiancee.

“You’re replaced by a 22-year-old kid who’s drawn by the promise of a cheap BMW and lots of money,” says Warren, who’s now 54 and living off savings while working part-time at a music store.

Spike in middle age suicides

Warren isn’t alone in finding himself in an unexpected and <depressing place during his MIDLIFE YEARS, where he’s TOO YOUNG TO RETIRE, but can’t find a job that matches the one he lost. There’s been an ALARMING SPIKE IN SUICIDES and drug and alcohol abuse among 45 to 54 year-old Americans, especially white Americans.

No other rich country has seen anything like this. Nobel prize winning economist Angus Deaton was one of the first to spotlight how white “midlife mortality” in the U.S. jumped from about 381 deaths per 100,000 in the late 1990s to about 415 now.

Everyone is trying to figure out why it’s happening. The leading explanation is a lack of “good” jobs, especially for workers without a college degrees.

“Many of the baby-boom generation are the first to find, in midlife, that they will not be better off than were their parents,” wrote Deaton and fellow economist Anne Case. Americans with only a high school degree—or less—have seen the biggest surge in suicides.

“I never ever in a million years thought I would be 54 and unemployable,”
says Warren. Since he has a part-time job, he is considered underemployed (not unemployed) by the U.S. government. At the music store, he earns only $10 an hour, with no benefits. It’s a job for now, but not liveable.

Workers over 50—or even 45—are being dubbed the “new unemployables.” Unemployment soared during the Great Recession for all ages, but older workers have had the hardest time getting rehired.

Share your story with CNN: How is your job and financial situation?

Older workers: the ‘new unemployables’

Olga Aguilar of Florida is worried she is one of the “unemployables.” The 56-year-old from Miami was laid off two years ago. Since then, she applies and applies for jobs but hasn’t landed anything.

“I want to be useful. I wanted to do something,” Aguilar told CNNMoney. “I want to feel like I have contributed something for myself, for my family. It’s just a matter of pride.”

Despite having a college degree in accounting and many years of experience, Aguilar can’t even get interviews anymore. She worked for nearly a decade at her last job for Arise Virtual Solutions, a call center firm. Her dream is to work with animals, but she says she will “try anything” at this point.

Aguilar’s husband served for many years in the U.S. Air Force and fortunately has a good private sector job now. They are a proud military family. She is upbeat, but this is not the life she expected to be leading in her 50s, either.

U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez told CNNMoney this is a real problem for America.

“The over 50s, they’ve got talent, but they’ve been told hundreds of times their services are not needed,” says Perez, who is on the list of possible vice presidential picks for Hillary Clinton.

Older workers have to search for jobs longer

When older workers get laid off—or quit—it takes them a lot longer to get rehired than their younger peers. Workers over 45 have to search, on average, over 9 months to get a new job versus about 6 months for workers ages 35 to 44, according to the Labor Department.

Some older workers simply give up looking for work when it takes too long. It’s one of reasons America has the lowest level of adults working or searching for a job since the 1970s.

The struggle to find good-paying jobs has become a key issue in the election. For younger workers, the solution is usually more education and retraining, but it’s not as obvious what to do to help older workers.

A possible solution: tax credits

Perez says the best tool to aid older workers who have been out of work for more than six months is the Worker Opportunity Tax Credit. Employers get tax credits ranging from about $1,000 to $10,000 if they hire these workers for a trial run. It’s akin to a glorified internship program. Often, the older worker gets a full-time job offer after the trial period is over.

While Perez is glad that Congress extended the program at the end of 2015, the problem remains that not enough companies are using it. Many businesses have been flooded with job applications during the recovery. They can be choosey.

There’s reason to be hopeful: American companies have been on a hiring boom in recent years. The number of Americans searching over six months for a job has fallen. Today, there are under 2 million people who are long-term unemployed, compared to a record high of 6.8 million people in 2010. Of course, to be counted as long-term unemployed, a person still has to be looking for work, so a lot of people might not be counted today.

All the talk of America being at or near “full employment” doesn’t make much sense to Aguilar. She’s one of the 750,000 workers over 45 who are still officially counted as long-term unemployed.

“The only conclusion I can come up with for why I can’t find work is my age. I don’t want to think that, but there are loopholes in everything,” says Aguilar.


Posted by Elvis on 12/06/16 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Saturday, August 06, 2016

How Low-Skilled Workers Could Rescue the US Economy

Their re-entry into the labor force will help power a revival in growth over the next decade, a Harvard economist argues

By Adam Creighton
Wall Street Journal Blogs
August 2, 2016

Remember those low-skilled workers, the ones who are disappearing from the work force because globalization and technology have passed them by? The ones whose economic frustration is driving populist politics around the world? 

New research by Harvard economist Dale Jorgenson offers a cheerier outlook for both them and economic growth.

His new study, which breaks down THE FORCES PROPELLING US GROWTH SINCE 1947 - the year the transistor was invented - and projects them forward to 2024, anticipates a boom in LOW-SKILLED WORK that rekindles economic growth to the tune of 2.49% a year from now till then, a little above the 2.34% experienced from 1990 to 2014.

“Those workers will fill service jobs in a growing economy,” he suggests.

“While the average quality of the labor force will begin to flat-line, the number of hours worked will rebound as employment-participation rates flick back to near where they were before the Great Recession, the paper says.” Among men and women ages 25 to 35 with only high-school qualifications, these rates are still 10 percentage points below their peaks in the early 2000s (at just under 80% and 60%, respectively).

“There are a lot of hours out there that aren’t being employed properly and they will be employed,” Mr. Jorgenson said in an interview, noting participation rates were already starting to rise as wages rose and employers struggled to fill positions.

“Some of the pessimism about the growth outlook stemmed from a misreading of the past and a misguided faith in official economic statistics,” he said.

Paul Krugman famously said “productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything.” But Jorgensons paper, written with a senior economist at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, shows increases in capital and labor have accounted for 80% of economic growth in the U.S. since 1947.

Capital contributed 50% and improvements in the quality and amount of labor 30%, the economists found, leaving total factor productivity - typically seen as a black box, the excess of economic growth over and above improvements in labor and capital = contributing 20%.

“The standard story doesn’t have as clear a concept of the quality of the labor and quality of capital that goes into growth,” Mr. Jorgenson said.

The study does point to a one drag on growth: a looming plateau in educational attainment as the higher-education sector reaches a saturation point. Almost 40% of young Americans enter the labor market with college qualifications, more than double the level of the 1950s. “There’s a limit to how many can go. There are diminishing returns to having more people in study,” Mr. Jorgenson said.

But the Harvard professor also said that national statistic agencies over the last decade have failed to adequately capture the falls in prices of some goods and services, such as cloud computing, which were spreading rapidly throughout the economy. That would understate the contribution of information technology to investment and GDP growth, for instance.

“There’s quite a lot of evidence that the economy is growing faster than we think,” he said.


Posted by Elvis on 08/06/16 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Can I Get PTSD From My Job

image: tormented man

Can I Get PTSD From My Job?

By Dr Z.
PTSD Spirituality
January 23, 2010

PTSD can be caused by four broad categories of trauma.  PTSD wounds our souls.  We usually think of rape or military service or natural disasters as causing PTSD.  Yet, a question I sometimes get is, “Can I get PTSD from my civilian job?” (This essay was expanded on 24 Jan 2010)

The short answer is “Yes.”

Does It Matter How I Got PTSD?

PTSD does not care how you got traumatised.  It just cares that you did get traumatised and then it tries to isolate and harm you.  If you get PTSD from a civilian employment situation, you still get to experience the same PTSD symptoms and PTSD-Identity that soldiers and veterans get.

When I listen to military veterans, rape survivors, and others, they almost all exhibit similar PTSD symptoms.  But they all got PTSD producing trauma in individual and different ways.  Hopefully, as American society matures, we will realize the point is not how did I get PTSD, but that I have PTSD.  People who have their souls wounded by PTSD, regardless of how they got it, need our prayers and compassion.  Some of them will also need medical treatment for symptoms.

Compassion Deficit Disorder

When dealing with my own PTSD, and when I help others realize they have value in spite of their PTSD, I still frequently find people (who have usually not suffered much themselves) judging what sort of trauma is worthy of PTSD and hence, their compassion.  If someone is in pain, they are worthy of our compassion.

But what about compassion deniers who themselves suffered from real trauma in their own lives?  Sometime people will suffer from COMPASSION DEFICIT disorder because when they suffered people showed them zero compassion. They were told to just get on with it, or quit whining.  That treatment added to their own suffering.  Unfortunately, they then fell into the trap of treating others with the same lack of compassion.  When we recognise someone elses suffering and can be compassionate, not only do we help them heal, but we heal a little more ourselves.

The PTSD-Identity wants to deny our own need for compassion and it denies that anyone else needs compassion.  It knows that your soul will start to heal if you allow yourself to be compassionate.

PTSD From Civilian Jobs?

f your job routinely involves trauma then you can easily acquire PTSD from your job.  Firefighters, police officers, emergency room technicians and paramedics can all be at heightened risk for PTSD.

Trauma From “Non-Emergency” Jobs?

This has more to do with the work environment, the sort of culture that the company allowed to develop. 

Employment which is high stress, high risk, or with horrible supervisors or co-workers can all cause PTSD in their ways. If your co-workers are sexist or racists, that produces stress.  If your boss is a screamer or sets you up to fail, that is also difficult to deal with.

PTSD risks beyond the job’s culture happens when trauma shows up unexpectedly.  Then PTSD can be acquired in jobs that are not normally considered as emergency work.  In fact, if your job is one that we dont expect to be stressful or traumatic, we can be caught off guard and even more easily harmed when things get horrible.  For example, a bank teller is not an emergency trauma worker.  If there is a shooting in the bank, the tellers can get PTSD.

Harrassment Can Cause PTSD

If your employment culture allows you to be harrassed, then you can get PTSD.  Work place law even recognises that verbal harrassment is a criminal offense and companies have paid substantial fines for allowing it.  Subtle discrimination on the job can also traumatize a person, especially when every job is at risk due to the profit first, people never machinations of Wall Street financiers and moving our manufacturing jobs out of the country.

Harrasment, on the job or not, is always despicable.  In some cases it will traumatise us so deeply as to wound our soul and hinder our ability to have proper relationships.

Business Uncertainty and Unemployment Are Trauma Producing

The recession can cause PTSD for some people.  The stresses of round after round of layoffs is a traumatic experience. It is traumatic to be laid off (fired?) from your job.  It is stressful and traumatic waiting to see if your name is on the next list of people who are dismissed.

Being unemployed can also cause trauma.  Applying for unemployment or welfare is stigmatized in American society.  Even if you lose your job through no fault of your own, people act as if you are a leper. And if you have kids who are members of the “Entitlement Generation,” then not having the money (or the credit) to keep them in clothes and electronics can also be traumatic.

PTSD is Not Inevitable

We are not all fated to get PTSD.  Yet, we are all at risk of being traumatized.  Knowing that it can happen and that PTSD is a normal outcome of trauma can help us more easily heal.

Regardless of how we get the soul wound of PTSD, we still need prayer and hope.  We still need compassion and forgiveness.


Posted by Elvis on 06/14/16 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace • Section Spiritual Diversions • Section Personal
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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Backstabbing Boss

Handling a backstabbing boss

By Bob Lewus
December 3, 2006

Dear Bob ...

I need advice on how to deal with backstabbers at work. Here goes (this is really long, sorry).

At one time in the very recent past, my boss relied on my opinions related to work because of my experience.

She told me many negative things about certain people in our staff (I assumed in confidence, of course). She said some staff were being underhanded toward her (a backstabbing story of its own)—the outcome of which would have caused serious questions about her credibility, resulting in major ramifications for her. At the time, I was most curious why she was not discussing this matter with someone at her level, given its seriousness. I have never broken that confidence and will not.

Presently, I’m out, and she has developed confidences with those same individuals (backstabbers-by her definition), assigning them choice and confidential projects. I found this out—inadvertently, not directly—from an employee who has recently transferred out of our unit.

I sent the boss a brief and non-threatening e-mail inquiring about one of the assignments. Her answer was indirect and reassuring—and later I found out it was an untruth. Now I am questioning everything. I must surely be in the Twilight Zone.

I’m also feeling passed over and left out, the rug pulled out from under me. Are there now three backstabbers?

My plans for handling this sitution: Lay low, try to smile, don’t show emotion or hurt feelings, and don’t be surprised by anything. Maybe my boss lacks confidence in her abilities, maybe subconsciously her decisions, maybe does not want to take responsibility and somehow has connected with something the trouble-making individuals have offered.

I also feel when she confided in me, she should not have and that she should not be making unit decisions with those particular staff members. I don’t and won’t get involved in gossip or office politics and don’t promote religion at work (the three of them discuss religion frequently, e-mailing the entire staff verses and quotes).

I truly feel you cannot outsmart a backstabber. This is how they have maneuvered in their world from the first time they discovered they could get what they wanted. Their behavior is very destructive, not only to them, but to everyone they are in contact with.  Personally, I feel it cannot possibly work for them each time they use it, but they have been rewarded enough to have developed a lifestyle of it and are very seasoned, and a novice cannot beat them at it.

I feel greatly disappointed in my boss. I really liked her, or I guess I liked the person I thought she was. Disappointment stinks.

Any advice?

- Stilettoed

Dear Stilettoed ...

Your first clue should have been that your boss was confiding in you. Nothing has changed except who is in the confidant’s seat.

Managers shouldn’t play favorites. Those who do inadvertently encourage backstabbing. Those who do and who aren’t a good judge of character pretty much ensure it.

And, at the risk of getting a lot of people mad ad me, those who use religion or religiousity as a way of determining who is most worthy of their confidences are among the most likely to be poor judges of character. That someone quotes verses of the Bible, the Koran, or the Bhagavat Ghita says nothing at all about how they behave in the workplace.

Now that you know, your choices are simple: Leave your department, leave the company, or wait it out. Leaving the department is probably the best of them.

In a large company it’s actually quite likely that those in charge have no idea something like this is going on - they rely on people reporting to people reporting to them to keep this sort of thing under control. The bad news is, it happens. The good news is, it probably isn’t happening everywhere. Somewhere in the company you’ll find opportunities without having to to change employers.

What’s probably the losing strategy is to wait it out. Unless your boss isn’t delivering results, that is. You can infer this from knowing, first-hand, that this is how your boss has been managing all along.

- Bob



How to Stab Your Boss in the Back

By C.G. Lynch
July 26, 2007

Think you can do a better job than your out-of-touch manager? Trying to oust him is a career move fraught with risk, but it can be done if you heed these five steps.

If you have ever entertained thoughts of overthrowing your toxic, out-of-touch boss, the tale of Shakespeare’s Macbeth should serve as a caution: Macbeth, a general, is praised by the king for his valor. One night Macbeth encounters three witches, one of whom tells him that he shall one day be king. Macbeth decides to hurry things along, murders the King and frames the King’s bodyguards. Macbeth gets the crown but is looked upon suspiciously by his rivals-one of whom does Macbeth in.

Obviously, you don’t want to kill your career. Stabbing your boss in the back (even if your department really would be better off without him) is an expedition riddled with peril. So what’s the upwardly mobile IT manager to do?

Be subtle, and let your leadership skills and the facts about your boss’s performance speak for themselves, say career coaches and recruiters. According to Martha Heller, a career coach and managing director of the IT leadership practice at executive recruiting company ZRG: “If you are seen in any way as Machiavellian or underhanded, you will not have the reputation of having integrity and you won’t get the gig.”

How successful you will be also depends on how far up the ladder you’ve already climbed. For instance, a CIO role is hard for any internal candidate to win: Recruiters and career coaches estimate that an open CIO position is filled externally about 60 percent of the time. The reason? Internal candidates usually lack the broad experience necessary to thrive in the C suite.

But as this how-to guide points out, it is possible to oust your manager and slide into his job. Best of all, you can do it without being a bad guy. By establishing strategic partnerships with the people who have the ultimate hiring and firing power, and by rallying support from those who would be your troops, you can make a case for why a regime change could be healthy for the business. However, once you achieve your goal, you’ll need to be sure you can tackle the problems that led to your boss’s ouster, or you could end up suffering his fate.

1: Assess your boss: Is he or she vulnerable?

Before you decide to put your plans for a coup in motion, you need to make sure your boss is vulnerable enough to be ousted. The red flag for a vulnerable manager is not necessarily a failed project (though those do raise some eyebrows) but the point when he or she becomes the aloof spouse in the unhappy marriage between the business and IT. “If I am interviewing a recently let-go CIO, I usually find that they took their eye off the ball and weren’t busy managing their business relationships,” says Karen Rubenstrunk, an executive recruiter with Korn/Ferry International.

When a manager loses touch, it’s often because she became complacent. CIOs, for example, tend to hold their jobs longer than they used to and have more time to get comfortable. In fact, according to the most recent State of the CIO survey, the average CIO tenure is now more than five yearsmore than enough time for a leader’s perspective to become narrow.

Patricia Wallington, who spent 10 years as CIO of Xerox, learned a few things about self-preservation. She says she held the job for so long by becoming an agent and facilitator of change, not a hindrance to it. Now, as an executive coach, she says C-level managers who fail to do the same become vulnerable to being overthrown. “They become entrenched in a particular view,” she says. “They have an image of how things should be done, then they stick with it rather than show a willingness to adapt.”

2. Assess yourself: Are you a compelling alternative?

Regardless of how much you disagree with, or even hate, your boss, consider whether you would really do a better job. Odds are, if your boss has fallen out of touch with his superiors or business counterparts, it’s not because they don’t like his taste in movies: It’s because they disagree about some key initiatives. And your boss might be right.

With his higher-level visibility, maybe he sees something that you don’t. Korn/Ferry International’s Rubenstrunk says IT managers typically have between 40 and 80 percent of the visibility into the business that their boss does. “Their perspective is limited,” she says.

But if you’re privy to 80 percent of what’s going on, you can probably make educated guesses as to where the boss is going awry. You might be able to tell when he isn’t dealing well with politics, she says, or is not being assertive enough with new ideas.

According to Susan Cramm, president of Valuedance, an executive coaching firm, if you’re climbing the ladder toward an executive position you also need broad experience, across all functions of IT (and, preferably, across areas of the business as well). “I had a client who had only worked in infrastructure and he told me he wants to be the successor to his CIO. I told him: It’s never going to happen,” she says.

In addition to knowing all the angles of IT and the business, it helps to be a superstar or to possess the charismatic qualities that typically propel people into executive positions. One way to hone that reputation is to win awards, according to Shawn Banerji, an executive recruiter with Russell Reynolds. “Sometimes an award is legitimate and sometimes it isn’t,” he says. “But they show to the rest of the organization that a person has ambition.”

3. Show you’re a leader

Napoleon wouldn’t have become emperor of France if he hadn’t commanded loyalty from his troops, and the same is true in IT. To get support from the people you want to lead, don’t say catty things behind your boss’s back or promise anything you can’t deliver yourself.

Instead, demonstrate the leadership qualities you know they desperately want to see from their manager, who consistently falls short. “You can learn a lot just by listening,” says ZRG’s Heller. “If the guy never makes it out of his office, then you should make the rounds,” she says. “If the staff says he’s all talk and no action, you want to make sure you’re the guy who makes a promise and then follows through.” Then, says Russell Reynolds’s Banerji, they may begin to imagine what life would be like with you in charge.

When your boss takes a vacation or goes on a long business trip and you are put in charge, you have a golden opportunity to show how you would do the job. Heller suggests you might even ask your boss to give you an “acting” title while he or she is awayחa subtle way to market yourself as a leader.

Just as you rally the troops in the trenches, you need to impress the other generals, too. If you are running a key project, then you should jump at the opportunity to speak at a budget or executive committee meeting where your project is on the agenda. If you can convey an executive presence, says Heller, they won’t wonder what it would it be like if you were in charge. They’ll already know.

4. Cultivate relationships with businesspeople

Establishing allies on the business staff can be tricky, especially at the highest levels. Talk about ousting a CIO with his C-level boss and you may get him fired. But you might fail to secure the CIO position for yourself because those same people you lobbied won’t trust you.

Korn/Ferry’s Rubenstrunk tells of a coup at a large, vertically integrated organization. The CIO had lost touch with the business and was frequently on the road. While he was gone, his lieutenant started meeting secretly with key executives over lunch and coffee. The lieutenant became instrumental in ousting his boss, says Rubenstrunk, but he didn’t get the job because the executives didn’t want such a blatant backstabber on their team.

A better tactic is to become indispensable. Volunteer for key projectsespecially the ones nobody, including your boss, wants to touch. That will provide you with legitimate reasons to speak with businesspeople frequently, says Valuedance’s Cramm. And it will give you an opportunity to shake any perception among business leaders that you’re just a techie rather than a strategic business thinker. In fact, Cramm knows one IT lieutenant who missed his chance to become a CIO when he didn’t sign up for a key project. When the CIO was fired, the company hired someone from outside.

In addition, don’t bad-mouth your boss. Let the facts speak for themselves. If people try to bait you into talking about your inept superior, resist joining in, says Cramm. Instead, ask questions that allow them to vent their frustrations, and then provide context for their complaints. If someone asks you about a project your boss dropped the ball on, you can explain: “A lot of companies approach those kind of projects this way, but Joe decided to do it this way.” If you appear objective, you’ll be more credible, Cramm says.

5. Keep your hands clean

If your boss is fired and you get the job, you want it to be because you are really the best person for the role, not because you played politics. And if your coup fails, you don’t want to find yourself on the unemployment line.

One way to minimize evidence of your involvement is to avoid leaving a paper trail. “Never anything over e-mail. Never,” says Korn/Ferry’s Rubenstrunk. Or, as the turn-of-the-last-century Boston political boss Martin Lomasney is said to have advised: Never writeif you can speak, never speak if you can nod, never nod if you can wink. “If you put anything in writing, assume your CIO is going to see it,” says Heller.

Also bear in mind that career paths often cross multiple times. “You want to make sure your boss doesn’t turn around and say you betrayed him, because you will rely on him later on in life to give you good recommendations. And before he leaves, he’s going to ask you what role you had. You’re going to want to answer him honestly,” Heller says.

Heller offers this example: Say you and your boss have always been at odds over a decision to outsource. In internal IT discussions, you go on record as supporting outsourcing, while he still refuses to look into it. Months later, a new CEO comes on board and asks you to join him for lunch. He asks you your opinion on outsourcing. You answer candidlyחwhich eventually leads to the CIO’s ouster. When you have your final lunch with that CIO and he asks you whether you pushed him out, you can be honest about your differences without seeming underhanded.

Or at least as if it’s nothing personal. It will have been, after all, a business decision.


Posted by Elvis on 06/01/16 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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