It seems like managers, so often, either go way overboard or go into hybernation and do way to little. This month, I had the pleasure and horror to hear two stories of managers run amuck with power. The first is from a friend and IT professional I'll call Tony. Tony said this:
I worked for a firm as an IT manager when it was going through a relocation project. We migrated from a shoddy IT infrastructure in a shoddy, unsecured server area (which had water pipes running around the back of the servers to the coffee machine with rodents visibly running around) to a shiny new office with a shiny new server room with a big door. This new server room door had not only a normal key lock but also a swipe card reader.
Unfortunately, the Director of Administration (really the Office Admin) wanted to allow access for all to the server room, so people could help themselves to toner cartridges when their printers ran out, without bothering to tell us so we could order more. (I'm skipping over the obvious horror of them having access to the servers and network)... And we were told that using the keys to lock the room would be a disciplinary offence. We tried to point out obvious security issues and were shouted down.
The important assets of the company were subject to constant pilferage and, come to think of it, ended up resulting in an eventual Employment Tribunal. All of my "I told you so's" came back to haunt them as details of their it in full in court, as the justices had read all of these details read in court and factored them into their ruling.
In a separate case, another acquaintance named Barry proceeded to tell me:
Our firm brought in a new Director of IT. This individual wasn't satisfied with overseeing a mere IT division. Soon after coming on board, she set about systematically isolating and debilitating other managers in other functions, like the finance and accounting department. If one of these managers didn't align themselves with her, they sound found that office life was getting harder. Service was taking longer. New installs, updates, and repairs were excruciatingly slow. Meanwhile, those who played her game got all the support that they needed. Most chalked it up to the simple ebb-and-flow of the business, not to premeditated planning. But as time went on, it become more evident that she was employing a divide-and-conquer tactic to win higher level strategic battles in the executive suite. In short order, she'd taken control of both IT and the money functions. Turnover started to go up quickly and before another couple months had past, most of the old guard was gone. Even these event seemed to be pre-planned, because the next thing we knew police officers were boxing up her office and taking her away. The six-figure salary and frequent bonuses weren't enough, so she'd evidently moved into to outright fraud or embezzelment. We're not sure which it was, but it landed her a multi-year sentence in jail!
Wow! Once again, I'm reminded of the value of checks and balances, in the second case, and the high value of listening to your team, in the first case.