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article imageOp-Ed: Jerk IT bosses and 'medicalizing' kids' tantrums — Same thing?

By Paul Wallis     Nov 15, 2012 in Business
Sydney - There’s no doubt about it. Reading about the latest analyses of management rabidity puts you in a certain frame of mind. Attach to this mindset the IT job market and a new desire by psychiatrists to categorize kids' tantrums as a medical disorder. Fun!!
Jerk Boss Syndrome is part of the typical caricature boss. The nasty bastard that’s always pushy, intolerant and generally obnoxious. We can thank the media and its fascination with corporate mediocrities for this culture. For some reason, being an absolute pig has become acceptable, even a role model, around the world for bosses.
According to Wired, commenting on the demise of some well-known Silicon Valley King Jerks who were recently fired, there’s a multiple risk factor for the real bastards:
Does that mean the way of the tantrum-tossing, egomaniacal boss is on the way out? Are Apple and Microsoft leading the tech industry to some kumbaya future? It’s not quite time to start baking your celebratory cupcakes, says Robert Sutton, a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford and the author of The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.
“A single-minded focus on excellence and nothing else in Silicon Valley can be very effective, especially if you mix in there some skill and taste,” Sutton says. “But when you are an asshole, your enemies are lying in wait. When you have performance issues then they come and shoot you.”
Love that book title. So much for short headers, but the “civilized workplace” as an objective is a big plus, too. The fact is that the highly destructive anti-worker culture is responsible for vast problems in the workplace. The slavedriver, as a matter of fact, tends to reduce performance by alienating all the talented people and driving them away. The lions, in effect, are replaced by very low grade sheep.
The IT commercial market is vicious. Very high stakes, very little give. So is the IT employment market. Just staying current and able to move from job to job is tough. Into this environment, now add jerks with compulsions and no social skills at all. Result, mass migrations of IT workers. Turnover is not a great result, but nor is standing still. Having a King Jerk adding some incentive to move creates a lot of chaos, notably simply in getting things done on time. New jobs stall, code isn’t written, people have to be oriented, it’s a real mess.
...And the difference between Jerk Bosses and two year olds is....?
By one of those strange but beautiful coincidences, Wired was also running a new Tweet about “Medicalizing” tantrums. It was quite irresistible to see the two articles side by side.
It seems that the other cuckoo land, the world of “everything is a medical disorder” has discovered that kids have tantrums. That was 5000 years well spent, glad to see they’re paying attention. The problem is that a section of Psych World wants to classify these things as an actual disorder. That means, in effect, that every human being on Earth would start getting psychiatric treatment more or less from the age when you’re old enough to have tantrums.
Not everybody’s thrilled about this idea. “Annoying, yes. Disorder, no,” sums up the opposing (apparently minority) view.
Gluing these two things together- The problem, obviously, is that brats can grow up to be brattish managers. I have seen some guys well over 40 go into 2 year old mode, and it’s not pretty. It’s actually rather appalling.
Imagine an entire industry run by 2 year olds.
Consider the basic character of the King Jerk boss and a 2 year old.
Is there a difference? “Me want!”
So we have a situation where bosses who are arguably totally insane aren’t medicated and are considered normal, while young kids with exactly the same behaviour patterns need medication? Yes, it’s a fun world, full of absolute inconsistencies on just about every level.
If you’re an IT manager- “You’re there to get the job done. Have your tantrums on your own time,” is the common wisdom from those who manage actual people and real businesses, not dashboard reports in between ego trips.
If you’re a 2 year old- “Shut up stop acting like a baby!” more or less covers it.
What a coincidence, eh?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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