Monday, October 24, 2016

Sabotaging Your Job

During World War II the Office of Strategic Services (the OSS) wanted people who had been forced to work for Axis powers to sabotage their jobs. It produced a “Simple Sabotage Field Manual” to show how to be a bad employee, how to make your company less efficient and effective, how to waste time and effort. And how to make it that no one knew what you were doing.

During the War it was a noble calling. Today, not so much.

Business Insider has reported some of the suggestions. It added that in many companies today, management gurus have made such proposals the norm.

You can reduce productivity by doing everything… by the book. Refuse to allow anyone to take shortcuts or to exercise discretion and you will slow down the enterprise.

If you are at a conference, you can undermine the work by speaking a lot, by speaking about yourself, by introducing irrelevant topics, and by trying to refer all matters back to committee.

Does this seem familiar yet?

Managers can best sabotage their jobs by praising and rewarding people who are inefficient and ineffective. Then managers can give them undeserved promotions. They can also insist on perfection and hassle people over the trivial errors.

Of course, managers might also treat those who work well and those who work less well as though they work the same. Everyone gets a trophy; everyone gets the same promotion; everyone gets the same raise. Surely, that will demoralize the best employees and reduce productivity.

Employees can help sabotage their companies by working slowly and deliberately. They should seek out reasons to interrupt their work, by taking coffee breaks or bathroom breaks or simply gossiping with their coworkers. When they do bad work they should always shift the blame, to the tools or to the management. If they can't focus they can blame it on their meds, or lack of same. Finally, they should never try to mentor younger and less experienced workers. Let them flounder. It’s good for the war effort.

Something to think about this morning.


Trigger Warning said...

Today, the "Simple Sabotage Field Manual" is called the "union contract".

It's extremely popular in public school systems, where even discussing performance is discouraged. But the "Dodo Bird Effect"* is, in general, a feature of government employ:

"The GAO found that, in 2013, nearly all working-level federal employees — 99.3 percent — get performance ratings of 'fully successful' or better."

Dodo Bird Effect:

"'The race is over!’ and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, `But who has won?’

This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence. At last the Dodo said, `EVERYBODY has won, and all must have prizes.’"
--- Alice in Wonderland, Ch 3

Ares Olympus said...

The CIA manual examples are interesting and practical passive-aggressiveness. Stuart's examples are more just general contempt for behavior he considers stupid.

I'l never forget a friend in his 20s proudly said the most important lesson he learned in his teens was "Never be too good at a job you don't like" so if mowing the lawn is a dreaded task, it makes sense to play dumb and say you didn't noticed that strip of unmowed grass, or the garden border rocks that hacked up the mower blade. I agreed it sounded effective at least, if your dad wasn't the physically abusive type.

For me the lesson is to not try to make people do things they don't want to do. Pride is a better teacher, but you have to be sneaky to get people to care. Like I remember back around 10th grade getting my first A in a math class, what a mistake if I'm supposed to always do that I thought, but I did like math when it started to make sense.

TW's 99.3% success federal worker performance rating probably shows the fact that most people, even managers don't like to be critical, and convince themselves that giving good ratings will make people feel pride in their job, but obviously that esteemism fails if you know you're not doing your best work, and no one cares or notices.

I also recall the claim in marriage that you're supposed to give 7 positive affirmations for every criticism, the logic apparently being that we take negatives 7 times more intensely as positives. Also what is important about praise or criticism is specifics.

If I had to remember one thing I'd say its important to know if you're taking someone else's behavior personally. If you say yes, then you have to face your own issues first, and if you say no, then you're probably safe to speak up and ask what's going on in the other that needs attension.

And if they answer "I'm being intentionally passive-aggressive to reduce our productivity because I'm being compelled to work against my will." You can then thank them for their honesty, and offer to keep their admission confidential.