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View Full Version : Do Companies Work Better Without Bosses?



Shonx
03-09-2008, 02:07 PM
Maybe this is a public sector slanted question more than private, but I've seen instances where this applied there too.

I've worked in a large number of places where the top man seems to create plenty of schemes which may or may not be put to use but do waste a ridiculous amount of time in coordinating them. They then spend huge amounts of time and man-hours to be wasted whilst telling folks of the "big plan", which often gets replaced by another "big plan" a couple of years down the line. They seem to talk in strategies and generalisations (nothing I'm ever guilty of, nosiree bob) without ever understanding the details which will cause them not to work further down the line.

Now not saying that all management is necessarily as flawed as these instances, as some higher-ups do actually take on board the opinions of people that actually do the ground work, but does it not seem like a lot of these heirarchies are not really designed with good results in mind with little autonomy at the lower reaches where standardisation of work is inflicted from above. When absent, a lot of places seem to work far better without them than being hindered by them when they are.

Any thoughts?

mos dan
03-09-2008, 05:38 PM
as a self-employed freelancer, my experience of companies is limited, i'm pleased to say. i've never stayed in a job for more than nine months, it just does horrible things to my constitution.

my last 'real job', in 2005-6, came to an abrupt halt when they appointed a middle manager to watch over me and my 'team' - a group of five of us in an FE college marketing dept, who had been managing fine without a boss for six months at least, after the previous marketing director was fired. this new middle manager woman micro-managed and fussed to the point that i can unequivocally say that she massively slowed our productivity. no question. i handed in my notice about three weeks after she arrived. my fellow bright young colleague did the same, figuring that if she was going to get this kind of shit in the public sector, she may as well move to the private sector and get a private sector salary.

i have a related theory (if not entirely on-topic, sorry), which i've developed in pub discussions with friends over the years.. that the average working day consists of about 3 and a half hours work. that's a median, obviously. but i'd say the modal group (if i remember my maths terminology correctly), is probably 2-5 hours, out of the 7/8 hours which constitutes the average working day.

seriously, i think it's a shared lie played out on a colossal scale, that most people spend less than half of their working day working.

Shonx
03-09-2008, 06:11 PM
i have a related theory (if not entirely on-topic, sorry), which i've developed in pub discussions with friends over the years.. that the average working day consists of about 3 and a half hours work. that's a median, obviously. but i'd say the modal group (if i remember my maths terminology correctly), is probably 2-5 hours, out of the 7/8 hours which constitutes the average working day.

seriously, i think it's a shared lie played out on a colossal scale, that most people spend less than half of their working day working.

Yeah, I think this is actually true (think I've actually managed even less before they blocked anything vaguely fun). I'm pretty sure those that worked "hardest" (i.e. appeared to fill up their days most) generally then made everyone else's lives miserable by giving them futher pointless tasks to do instead of goofing off. We had a point where we had to fill in 3 charts for various tasks over the day and then were asked why so much time had been spent on "non-process activity" and then informed them that most of this time wasted was due to filling in the charts requested. This soon stopped once the embarrassment had died down.

There's a book by Madeline Bunting called Willing Slaves that also points out that those working longer hours are less likely to do a good job through exhaustion and that a lot of it is merely to impress those that might promote them by always being in the office and available for further tasks. Apparently unpaid overtime amounts to 3 times the amount lost to industry by people phoning in sick.

Even a lot of the "grafters" these days still seem to spend half the day smoking fags and drinking tea or waiting for other tradesmen to finish what they need to, although obviously the work is far harder when it does happen.

droid
03-09-2008, 08:49 PM
i have a related theory (if not entirely on-topic, sorry), which i've developed in pub discussions with friends over the years.. that the average working day consists of about 3 and a half hours work. that's a median, obviously. but i'd say the modal group (if i remember my maths terminology correctly), is probably 2-5 hours, out of the 7/8 hours which constitutes the average working day.

seriously, i think it's a shared lie played out on a colossal scale, that most people spend less than half of their working day working.

This is only true when applied to office workers in certain categories. On an assembly line, call centre, factory etc... the only people who get away with slacking are management.

That said i did work in a warehouse once where we'd forklft ourselves up to the top shelves (50ft high) and hide from the boss occassionaly, but even then youd be lucky to scab a 1/2 hour once or twice a week. You cant slack off when theres five trucks waiting at the loading bay!

On topic - check out the occupied factory movements in Latin America for examples of worker run business, or of course, the Spanish revolution during which most business' were taken over by workers, increasing productivity by as much as 20% in some communes.

mixed_biscuits
04-09-2008, 09:13 AM
This is only true when applied to office workers in certain categories. On an assembly line, call centre, factory etc... the only people who get away with slacking are management.

Yeah, I would second that: I've worked as a data processor and a cash counter in the past and both jobs involved constant, careful work, with output continually measured.

One thing about them was that they didn't involve any hard thinking - it might be the case that people just aren't capable of 7hrs deep thought, so slack inevitably creeps in with jobs higher up the ladder.

matt b
04-09-2008, 09:21 AM
http://www.suma.coop/CooperativeWorking_css.html

droid
04-09-2008, 09:50 AM
One thing about them was that they didn't involve any hard thinking - it might be the case that people just aren't capable of 7hrs deep thought, so slack inevitably creeps in with jobs higher up the ladder.

Only if you assume that management requires deep thought!

In my experience the opposite is usually true.

Shonx
04-09-2008, 05:14 PM
Only if you assume that management requires deep thought!

In my experience the opposite is usually true.

I think they often like to give the view that it's welcome, until some thought that goes against what they want you to think gets aired and then it's a very different matter. Mind you I've never been that agreeable about these things, if I was a diplomat there'd be war in a week.