Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

I used to be a newspaper editor for a weekly, and boy did I learn a lot from that job.

First of all, the publisher of the entire chain was a MBA from a Top 10 school, and he didn't know what he was doing. I have no use for MBAs, whom I consider worse than worthless - they're dangerous (and there really is an Old Boy's Network).

The first general manager at the paper was a woman, and she was semi-competent and was asked to find another job.

The second was a guy, who had inherent manager skills. In fact, he left and took all the ads with him.

The third general manager was a woman, and she was a complete catastrophe with no managerial skills. I mean none.

I knew how to do my job, and was good at it. I had mastery. Under the second manager I had autonomy. I never really had any purpose, except writing things that entertained me and sometimes my audience (the purpose of newspapers is to sell advertising).

The third, utterly incompetent woman tried to take everything from me, which means we did not get along at all. So she got rid of me.

Not surprisingly, about after a month after she fired me, she was fired. She didn't understand why. She thought she was doing great (this is called the Dunning-Kruger effect, when someone is incompetent doesn't know it and thinks they are not only competent, but super-competent).

My experience has been first-rate people hire first-rate people; second-rate people hire third-rate people, and third-rate people hire four-rate ones.

I work for myself now.

I've posted similar TED talks like the one above. The lesson isn't hard. Autonomy, mastery, purpose - and productivity and profits will go up.

6 comments:

Glen Filthie said...

I am working for an outfit like that right now, Bob. It is like WKRP without the fun.

I dunno how many good, competent workers have come and gone - either fired by the half wit we have for a manager - or they quit in disgust. Competence frightens our manager and he will not tolerate it for long.

Without a word of a lie, he has hired man-hating militant lesbians. (The last one got punched out by a paki truck driver in a fight she started). We replaced her with a homeless beardo. He got replaced by a crack head. Then we got a pretty sensible gal - who lasted 8 months and then quit and went to work for our competition. We have an older man like yourself in there now - but he only works to keep busy and is semi-retired. He is quitting later in the fall.

Our manager has lost $400K in rentals (that we know about) and at least three times that in customers who got pissed off with us and left...and our manager just keeps on doing what he does. He wants to fire me in the worst way but can't because I will sue the pants off him if he does. I am fortunately far enough removed from him that he can't mismanage me...but I feel sorry for the others.
This is why jobs go offshore... and this is why they don't come back, either...

Bob Wallace said...

That is bizarre beyond anything I have experienced.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I work for a professional service firm (PSF). PSF's lack future time orientation: it's not the family farm that you can bequeath to your kids; it has no alienable ownership, like Procter & Gamble; it has no institutional continuity, like a government bureaucracy. It's just current owners, gettin' while the gettin's good and trying to sock away enough to get the hell out as soon as they can.

PSF's are so dysfunctional, I don't know how they even exist. I think in a few years they will all be small proprietorships or they will be owned by publicly traded corporations.

Take The Red Pill said...

UncleBob: "...when someone incompetent doesn't know it and thinks they are competent, but super-competent..."

I'm sure that you left out a few words and meant, "thinks they are not just competent, but super-competent".

Glen Filthie: "...he has hired man-hating militant lesbians..."
What other kind of lesbians are there?

"...our manager just keeps on doing what he does."
Then he is probably insane (as well as being leftist [same thing, actually]) -- you know what the definition of 'insanity' is, don't you?

Take The Red Pill said...

UncleBob: "...when someone incompetent doesn't know it and thinks they are competent, but super-competent..."

I'm sure that you left out a few words and meant, "thinks they are not just competent, but super-competent".

Glen Filthie: "...he has hired man-hating militant lesbians..."
What other kind of lesbians are there?

"...our manager just keeps on doing what he does."
Then he is probably insane (as well as being leftist [same thing, actually]) -- you know what the definition of 'insanity' is, don't you?

Bob Wallace said...

The first thing I was told in my first journalism class was, "Never edit your own copy."

Absolutely true.