Mate of mine was just out of his apprenticeship. (So we’re talking more than thirty years ago.) He’d done something silly, made something using the wrong grade steel, or put the holes in the wrong place, and then it went from their workshop through to the next workshop where it would be fitted.
They didn’t just send it back; the foreman from the other shop came back with it and verbally tore into my mate. Within seconds my mate’s manager was there. He physically stepped between the foreman and his prey and told him that if he had a problem, then there was a proper procedure and if he ever caught him hassling ‘his staff’ again, he’d nail his ears to the bulkhead.
When the foreman beat a retreat and was out of sight and earshot, the manager looked at the problem, told my mate he wasn’t a complete idiot, as he obviously had bits missing. He then had him redoing it then and there, made him bring it in for him to inspect before it was sent on as finished.
The management philosophy was simple. The manager was there to support and protect his people. If they got it wrong, yes, he bawled them out, but no other wandering manager or whatever got to do that. If there was a problem, then it was the manager’s fault because it had happened on his or her watch and they carried the can. They then went back to their people and made damned sure it didn’t happen again. That’s largely why they were paid more.
Yet just talking to mates who work in education, or the civil and public services, it seems that this is no longer the way it’s done. Managers now wear Teflon. When trouble descends from above it pours all over the manager and wonder of wonders, none of it sticks. Instead it all lands on those at the bottom.
Now back in the day, managers could actually do the work that their people were doing. OK they were probably a bit rusty on the details but they’d done the job or one very like it. But now all that some of them know is how to ‘manage’.
Call me old fashioned but frankly, having seen some ‘management’ in action over the years, I’m not impressed.