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Posted on: Friday, 16 July 2010 by Rajiv Popat

Fred is in a meeting. Answering questions about the delay of a project and why things are not moving. He is passing the buck to his team in their absence. Fred as it turns out is acting like a whiner and is getting loved for it.

The others in the meeting room seem to have joined him in their collective criticism of the team and why they are so unproductive.

Every single individual in the meeting seems to be getting a perverted sadistic pleasure out of mentioning how unproductive the team is. No-one seems to be talking about how utterly helpless they are in terms of helping the team.

There is a major bug in the system. Discussions seem to revolve around why the bug was missed during the testing cycles. There seem to be no discussions around what we can do to make the testing cycles better. Not a single person in the room seems to stand up and contribute towards helping with testing the application before it is released to the client.

If there is one thing I have worked on really hard, in the last few years of my career, it is observing human beings in general developers and managers in particular.

In this post I am going to let you on to a little known dark secret that is so well guarded that even most managers around the world are not aware of it.

Before I tell you the secret however, I need you to promise me, that you will not dismiss the secret as stupidity. That you will hear me out. That you will at-least think about it. That you will do some honest soul searching and ask yourself if it is true.

Ready for the secret? Here we go.

Most managers around you. The ones you work with. Irrespective of how amazing they are as managers, get a sadistic perverted pleasure out of a situation where their team fu@#ks up big time. Don't believe me? See a manager describe how unproductive his team is, in a meeting called to discuss why the project is not shipping on time.

Observe a manager closely as he talks about how unproductive his team is. You might actually seem very mild indications of subtle dramatic pleasure and excitement in his voice as he speaks. He will refer to his own team as 'they' instead of 'we'. The idea is to disassociate yourself from trouble, pass the buck over to your team and run.

And this is not about bad management or micro-management. If one of your team members went out and did something stupid, like delete a production database, I bet you have experienced this feeling too. The first gut as a human being is that you want to disassociate yourself from 'him' and then get in a meeting and talk about his stupidity and how to resolve it.

Why mention the fact that giving 'him' the access to the production database was in itself not such a smart thing to do in the first place. After all, that makes you equally responsible for the shit that just happened. No one needs to know that.

For years managers have got away by just blame and whining about their teams and their team's lack of productivity. So much so that, most managers around the globe seem to get a mild sadistic pleasure and a kick out of criticizing their teams.

If you run an organization, go make your managers accountable for their teams. Their failure is your failure. In fact it is the entire organization's failure. Breathe. Let that fact sink in. Seriously.

Stop talking. Stop bitching. Stop whining. Stop disturbing your team and help them any in real, productive ways that you can. Take up a round of testing. Do their documentation. Check every screen of a new release meticulously. Find out other ways of reducing their work and helping them productively.

If you cannot do any of that, just get the shit out of their way and let them function independently.

And if you did not even realize that you get a secret pinch of pleasure deep down inside at the first mention of f@#kup or drama within your team, now might be a time to do some serious soul searching. Go on. Starting thinking about how you can stop getting that perverted sadistic kick of pleasure every time your team fu@#ks up. Stop it as quickly as you can. Seriously.