Monday, December 28, 2009

Weight loss and the workplace

It seems that every new year, people make a resolution to lose weight.  If they've been fat year after year, chances are that the new year is going to bring different results.  Fat people are lazy and unlikely to be motivated to take the necessary steps to decrease their weight.  But there is an easily implementable solution that will succeed: make weight management a requirement for the job.

Fat people have more medical problems.  Big bottoms are a drain on company bottom lines.  Companies need to pay more insurance medical costs with fat, unhealthy employees in addition to having to deal with the lower productivity of those lazy workers.  One solution is to just not provide insurance (my personal preferred solution and the one I use at my company), but this doesn't work so well with all companies.  In those cases, it's best to have the company institute policies requiring that employees submit the height, weight, and bloodwork tests to the management.  The company can institute a diet plan for the employees to follow to control their weight.

In my own company, this has worked spectacularly well.  All of my employees are required to work 12 hour days, and work through all of their meals.  When they are too busy working, they don't have time to stuff their faces.  All the while, they are burning calories being productive.  Consequently, my workforce is a lean productivity machine.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The PHB Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
The programmers were harried and clicking a mouse;
Their socks were half on, and disheveled their hair,
In fear that the boss would soon be there;
The legacy code was many messy testbeds,
Yet its failure to work would be on their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Craved nothing more than a long winter's nap;

When out of the speakers there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my seat and released abdominal matter.
To the Skype window I clicked with some fear,
For I knew the boss's wrath soon would be near.
With pointy hair as white as a new-fallen snow,
Were bushy eyebrows on the forehead below,
When what to my disappointment should I see,
It was the boss [again], checking up on me.
He was demanding, unreasonable, and a pesky old fool.
Everyone at work thinks he's a tool.
More rapid than eagles come his critiques,
Of everyone's habits and coding techniques.
"Now Smith, now Jones, now Howard and Dixon!
On Charles, on Carol, on Dan-o and Nixon!
To Visual Studio, to Windows, to DOS Prompt and all,
Keep writing more code, and fix my firewall!"

Assigned workload and expectations soared high,
But no feedback was accepted, not even a sigh;
With control of the paycheck and workers needing holiday dough,
The boss knew that everyone there was oh so his 'ho.
And there in the Skype window he was nagging,
About why the code wasn't done and my efforts were sagging.
As I opened my mouth to give a reply,
He assigned yet more work in the blink of an eye.

He piled on more tasks to be done A.S.A.P.,
Numerous jobs were there, all top priority.
First code fixes for the software to be done in the next hour,
Website changes next, after checking the server rack power,
Afterwards on to new features to the new product release,
Then maybe, just maybe, a brief moment of peace.
Work through Christmas dinner getting TPS reports done,
Then to debugging the software with a test run.

The list went on and scrolled out of sight,
With no way to finish, try as I might,
But complaint was no option with a job list this crazy,
For any suggestion of impossibility would just brand me lazy.
I laughed at the absurdity in spite of myself,
At the mission impossible given by the evil elf.
With a glare of this eye and twist of his head,
Soon gave me notice of coming announcement of dread;
He spoke not a word, but told me to get straight to work,
And shortened my deadlines, relishing being a jerk.

Pointing his finger at me as he turned up his nose,
The Skype open session he was beginning to close.
An eternity later, he ran out of things to say,
Maybe now, I can salvage part of my holiday,
But I heard him exclaim as he faded from sight,
"Bah humbug to all, and there's more work tomorrow night!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Office Party

I'm again hosting the annual company Christmas office party.  This year, I'll be making attendance mandatory in order to build company cohesion.  The festivities will begin promptly at 8 a.m. on December 24th and continue through the morning of the 25th.  I'm looking forward to the festivities.  Everyone will be there to code up some new features so we can get a head start on the competition, the web team can start fixing up the website, and some of the team can start learning and practicing Flash since we've lost our last Flash developer.  Of course, the company will be providing nourishment in the form of donuts and coffee to fuel the all night party session.  This year's office party will be even better than last year's!

Monday, December 14, 2009


I've never liked Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Several elements of the story rub me the wrong way. Ebenezer Scrooge is portrayed as a miserable, money grubbing human being, whereas the Bob Cratchit is shown as the honest and loyal employee. That situation would never exist in reality. Scrooge was a successful businessman. The fact that he was frugal with his hard earned wealth is something to be celebrated and not villainized. Paying a minimal salary to his employee is responsible corporate behavior; yet, Dickens portrays Scrooge as taking advantage of Bob Cratchit.

Then there's the issue of "poor" Bob Cratchit. If Cratchit were so poorly paid and treated, then how is it that he could support six children? Either he was already being paid plenty or he was living off of welfare handouts. If Cratchit wasn't earning enough money, it was his own fault, not that of Scrooge. God helps those who help themselves. If Cratchit really were poor and downtrodden, it's from his own laziness and sloth. Trying to pin the blame on the evil boss is irresponsible fantasy.

I always change the channel every time I see this drivel aired on television. Dickens was full of it in this story. If anyone gets scrooged in A Christmas Story, it would be Ebenezer.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Control through training

You can train a dog to be obedient.  But can you train an employee to be equally under your control?  It is possible, but there are so many approaches to it, and each person requires a different tactic.  Some employees are best being brow-beaten into submission (my personal favorite), others require subtle psychological manipulation, some need to be treated like children, etc.  I don't always have time to figure out the appropriate training to keeping workers beholden to me.

So, what do I do?  One of my favorite tools is using very specific, niche on the job training.  This works particularly well in a software company.  Build obfuscated, proprietary, in-house software tools for use in the company and require that all workers use the proprietary tools.  That way, all workers receive specialized training that is only useful when working for your company.  There's no need to train people with skills that can carry over to other jobs outside of your company.  When their skillset is only usable under your company, it's much easier to keep employees working for you and under your control.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You can't handle the truth!

Is honesty really the best policy? It sounds nice in theory to always tell the complete and honest truth. Unfortunately, the real world doesn't work quite so nicely. In reality, little (or even big) white lies grease the gears that keep work getting done.

Do parents always tell their children the complete truth all the time? No, good parents will lie to their children to form positive, compliant behavior traits. This is true even for parents who believe ardently instilling honesty values in their children. Why would they do this? Because it simply provides a highly effective tool for controlling and training their children.

Companies lie all the time to their employees to ensure the continued success of the company. Employees don't need to have full knowledge; in fact, employees knowing too much could very well be detrimental to the company. Just look at Walmart. They have an undeservedly infamous reputation for lying to employees. Walmart is one of the nation's most successful companies. Lying to its employees allows Walmart to keep better control of its employees and wage costs low. That it turn allows the company to control costs and turn better profit margins. If Walmart had been hamstrung by out of control wage costs, they would not have been nearly as competitive. Ironically, this means that it would not have been as successful a company and would not be able to keep so many people employed.

The complete truth isn't all it's cracked up to be. Lying is actually a good thing. It serves as a useful tool for the PHB toolbox. Employees don't need to be in the know about everything, particularly when it comes to matters affecting company well-being. Little white lies keeps everyone in line, so work keeps getting done and the company keeps thriving.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The PHB Gratitude List

What am I grateful for this year? It may not be my lazy, incompetent employees, but there are things I am grateful for:

  1. Outsourced labor.
  2. Not having to coddle my employees.
  3. Free intern labor from the bad economy.
  4. Increased employee control.
  5. Becoming boss without actually being competent.
  6. Self-appointed importance.
  7. Most importantly, it's just good to be the boss.

Happy Turkey Day to all the PHB's in training out there. Hopefully, you've managed to get time off by assigning extra work to an underling.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Appreciate what you soon won't have

You really don't appreciate what you have until you've lost it... or at least until you think you're about to lose it.  A recent study has shown that people who perceive an experience as about to end will enjoy the experience more.  Rather than becoming sad from knowing that the party is almost over, people begin to savor the little that is left.  It's counter-intuitive, but it makes perfect pointy haired sense.

If you give your employees too much time off, they don't actually enjoy their free time.  You have to create a scarcity of free and personal time amongst your workers so that they learn to efficiently use and truly appreciate their time off.  Even better is calling them in the middle of their off time and letting them know that they need to come back to work early.  They will savor and better enjoy their off time.  It's a double benefit for you the PHB and the employee: you get your employee working more hours, and the employee gets more concentrated enjoyment out of their scarce time off.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Multitasking your free time

Multitasking is the single biggest tool for boosting productivity at work. Why do just one task at a time, when you can split your attention to multiple tasks and get several things done at once? It's a winning proposition all around.

Then I read about multitasking in another realm: media entertainment. People are increasingly overlapping their entertainment options. They can surf the internet and watch t.v. at the same time. Being more efficient with your entertainment is a great idea! I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier, or even made it company policy yet. Once everyone can be more efficient in the downtime, they won't need quite so much time off. That leaves more time for getting work done.

Other increased efficiency multitasking ideas that I like are:
  • Handling phone calls and text messages while driving to and from work. That driving time would otherwise be non-productive time, but the cell phone allows that time to be work time.
  • Working at the dinner table, especially if you have a chalkboard table where you can continue writing down your ideas and to do list while eating. Note that eating at a dinner table should only happen on the weekends. Employees should be at the office over dinner time during the week.
  • Showering and eating at the same time. Both of those tasks take away from the workday. There's no good reason the two can't be combined.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Live to Work

The most important thing in life is getting work done.  You may work to live, but more importantly, you need to live to work.

In a survey of working Americans, 65% of workers say they "live to work."  I don't know why none of those workers are in my company since I mostly see lazy, unmotivated workers not getting their assigned tasks done.  But overall, the dominant (and right) attitude is that life is about working.  If you're not being productive for the company, then what are you wasting your time doing?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pfft... Europeans

Apparently, Europeans are too busy in their evenings socializing and having dinner to be using their computers.  Unlike their American counterparts, European internet use peaks around 7 p.m. and drops off sharply afterwards.  Adjusting for the time zones, that would be around 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

That's just plain unacceptable.  American companies need to be working at least until 8 p.m. EST (to match up with the west coasters), and ideally even later.  If the snooty Euros are already lounging away before the North American workday is even half over, how can they expect to do any business?  There's a good reason the hard working Protestants left the Old World.  They're just a bunch of carefree, lazy people over there.

Friday, November 6, 2009

No excuses

If a quadruple amputee can be a dancer, then worker underlings have no excuses for not getting their assigned jobs done.  Not having enough time, resources, or training is not a valid excuse.  For Christ's sake, a girl with no arms and legs is dancing at Juilliard.  How hard can it be to get a simple software package programmed when I want it?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Keepin' it fresh

A key to my success as a PHB has been learning how to squeeze the most out of people.  Motivating people to work harder and longer for the same amount of pay gives the company far more bang for the buck.  But it's also important to keep fresh blood talent coming in at all times.  When multitudes of fresh minds are brought in to work on the company's projects, our products become that much better.  From the work of many rises the higher quality product.

Some might argue that building continuity is more important.  There is some truth to that statement, but it's far less important than people think.  Programming is a commodity task--it's just easy grunt work.  You can hire anyone to do it.  That's why I hire freelancers and outsource all the programming details.  You can easily drop people periodically and hire someone new; that keeps the cycle of fresh minds working on a project.  You can work the fresh freelancer harder, get the most out of him as possible, and then bring in someone new again.

The management is the part of the team with the vision and the ideas.  The PHB is where the continuity comes from.  With hands on micromanagement, the PHB is familiar with the entirety of the project and can assign the detail work to the constantly changing worker pool.  The ever changing company workforce keeps the company on the cutting edge.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Boo! It's your scary PHB.

According to an informal survey, nearly 20% of workers think their workplace is scary.  Of those who are petrified of their workplace, 18% were pansies who were scared of the workload.  Only 8% were afraid of the hours worked and 7% were afraid of their bosses.  That just tells me that workers in general are simply not being worked hard enough or long enough if there is so little fear of the work hours and the bosses.  A good PHB should strive to increase the work hours and intimidate employees to get those percentages up.

Only 6% of the surveyed work fearers were frightened of having to sit through meetings.  That can only mean that they aren't being called into enough meetings.  I make it a point to call frequent meetings and enforce company wide mandatory attendance.  It's the only way I can give instructions to everybody at the same time and keep tabs on everyone.  I also don't know why any worker would fear "sitting" through a meeting.  As the boss, I should be the only one seated at the meeting.  Everyone else should be standing.

The survey also showed that people likened their bosses to various Halloween characters.  I myself imagine that I would be compared to Dracula and The Mummy.  Since my lazy employees think I demand too much from them for working 14 hour days and giving up life outside the company, they think I'm sucking the life out of them.  That's an unfair assessment.  I'm a dark lord, but I don't actually suck my employees dry.  I do leave my minions with something in the tank.  I do need them to continue working the next day.

The Mummy is slow moving and using ancient thought processes.  So what if I'm a dinosaur?  I haven't survived this long without good strategies.  I've found what works for me.  I don't have to listen to crazy newfangled ideas from my employees.  I'm the boss because I know what works.

As the pointy haired boss, I think it's only fair that I can also liken my employees to Halloween characters/monsters:

  • Ghosts - My workers have the amazing habit of having no substance and disappearing constantly.
  • Zombies - I often feel my hordes of workers are just mindless creatures aimlessly wandering the halls and feeding on whatever they find.
  • Quasimodo - All my employees look like hunchbacks as they sit at their desks typing at their computers.
  • The Headless Horseman - I often feel like my employees have no idea what I'm talking about, like they don't have heads.
I'm sure I could think of a few more, but I do need to get back to my boss duties...and also back to elevating my employees' perception me from merely Dracula to El Diablo.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just Do It

One of my favorite phrases comes from the wise Greek goddess, Nike:
"Just do it!"
I tire of the excuses I hear from my employees about why they can't do certain tasks.  Workers are hired to get things done, not tell me that they can't be done.  I'm the boss.  I come up with the ideas.  I hire people to make those ideas happen.  I don't care how it gets done.  Those details are up to the employee to figure out.  As far as I'm concerned, they need to just make it happen.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The joys of the young and unemployed

The latest survey results show that the unemployment rate amongst young American has shot to an all time high.  In the 16-to-24 year old age group, unemployment is estimated to be 47%.  While it's not good news for the nation's youth, it's great news for the PHB's and companies out there.

There's a glut of workers on the market all competing for a limited pool of jobs.  That creates hordes of young workers--many college graduates--who are desperate for work.  Now is a good time to hire.  The market has a glut of naive young workers with no distracting family life, acclimation to pulling all nighters, and no choice but to accept whatever job is available.  You can now easily hire labor to work your 60-80 hour weeks and pay them next to nothing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guide to telecommuting

Telecommuting is becoming a more common practice these days. Technology has advanced to the point where we can have virtual companies with no tangible assets and no real office. My own company is just a room in my house and a bunch of outsourced programmers. It takes so little to have a company.

But how can a PHB keep tabs on his employees if they're not in his office? It can be a challenge, I admit, but it is doable. You need to create a virtual office. Just like the real office, you need to be able to communicate and issue orders to your workers whenever you want. You'll also need to be able to monitor your employees at all times to make sure they're not slacking. Finally, it's ideal if you can exert some sort of remote control over them. How do you create a virtual office that meets these criteria?

First off, you require that everyone keep a constantly open Skype connection. This connection will need to constantly stream audio and video so you can watch your workers and talk to them. With the constantly open connection, you can virtually drop in anytime you want and give them new orders. The big brother aspect of it makes sure they won't ever be goofing off. If they try to do something sneaky like close the Skype connection, Skype will sound a disconnect alert for you.

Most PHBs would be satisfied with the Skype monitoring setup, but a savvy PHB will go one step further. With remote desktop programs like VNC, the workers can be using the same desktop as the PHB. This allows the PHB can see exactly what his employees are doing. Even better, it allows the PHB to take over the keyboard and mouse controls. It's the ultimate management tool for a team.

The challenges of a telecommuting virtual company are many, but with some planning and technical know how, the smart PHB can make it work.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Curse and Swear All You Want

Both of them apparently do you good.  Swearing helps us deal with pain.  Unload some four letter bombs, and all of a sudden things don't hurt so much and you feel better.  There's a similar effect for yelling.  The conventional wisdom has been that yelling raises your blood pressure and stress, but in reality the opposite is true.  It's good for your health to let the lungs and vocal cords rip out the decibels.  Yelling makes you feel better.

This is good news indeed.  When I get frustrated with dealing with my lazy and unproductive employees, I really feel like screaming at them and asking why they're so $#%#* incompetent.  I used to try to hold back, but holding it in is unhealthy.  I feel so much more relief if I just yell and tear into them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Contributions of the Pointy Hair Boss

Pointy Haired bosses get an unfairly bad rap. Without PHBs, things just wouldn't run as smoothly. PHBs bring important contributions to the table. For example,

  1. Making employees arrive at work early and leave late helps the employees avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic. They arrive less frazzled and with more energy so they can get more done.
  2. Having employees work through lunch and dinner helps with the nation's growing obesity problem. With no time to eat meals, the workers are consuming fewer calories, which makes it easier for them to stay trim. Combine this with the long work hours where the employees are burning more calories, and there's a double benefit. It's a win-win situation all around.
  3. What is perceived as "micromanagement" is actually the PHB helping educate his employees. The boss is higher up for a reason: he's smarter and better than everyone else. Giving instructions on every little task is his way of imparting knowledge.
  4. Keeping employees at work virtually round the clock helps the employees save money. If they just stay at work, they don't have to waste money on gas for commuting. The more time they spend in the office, the less money they spend on utilities at home.
  5. The negative criticisms are tough love from the boss. Positive reinforcement isn't always a good thing. The criticisms toughen up the workers and bring them up the right way.
  6. Assigning a multitude of seemingly pointless and unrelated tasks is the boss's way of improving worker productivity. When workers are overwhelmed with things to do, they learn to focus and become more productive by multi-tasking.
These are only a few examples of the many important contributions from PHBs. Clearly, the PHB is an important part of every company.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Poor people are fat

The idea that poor people are skinny because they don't have enough to eat is complete myth.  The poorest states in the country are also the ones with the most obesity problems.  There's a strong correlation between debt and obesity.  If you borrow a lot of money that you probably shouldn't have, then chances are a lot higher that you're lazy bastard who's severely overweight.

The solution to controlling weight is to get off your fat ass and start working.  When you're working all the time, you don't have time to eat and make yourself fatter.  Getting that paycheck slowly pays down the debt and takes you out of the vicious debt-obesity cycle.

Friday, October 9, 2009


"Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money." -Margaret Thatcher

This country appears to be heading towards a more socialist system, which is a trend that disturbs me greatly. Socialists like to "re-distribute" wealth which has been hard earned to lazy leechers who have less money. This just breeds resentment by the people who have worked hard and de-motivates them. In the end, you get a system where no one is motivated to work and there's no productivity.

"God helps those who help themselves." -Benjamin Franklin

What we should be doing is rewarding the go-getters and putting them in charge. They have more money because they make more money from their endeavors instead of complaining and trying to get a free ride. Weed out the unproductive, or at least let the people who have risen through the ranks crack the whip on them. This is how we should be running the country. Those who are suffering are in their positions from their own fault. Giving them free handouts doesn't do anyone a favor.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Falling behind in worker hours

Did you know the average U.S. worker only worked 1792 hours in 2008?  That's less than 40 hours a week over the course of year.  Even accounting for an absurdly generous 2 week vacation, that's still less than 40 hours a week.  Several countries still rank ahead of the U.S. in total annual hours worked.  Notably, Mexico, Italy, Iceland, Korea, Hungary, Greece, and the Czech Republic topped the U.S.

Does anyone else find this totally unacceptable?  Where is that American Protestant work ethic?  Apparently, my suspicions have been confirmed that American employees have started taking it easy.  It's up to us PHB's to crack the whip more and get those numbers back up.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lessons from the Ig Nobels

The 2009 Ig Nobel winners have been announced. While science isn't usually my realm of expertise, I still find the research results of the Ig Nobel Laureates to be valuable. This year's winning research contains several significant PHB-relevant knowledge:

VETERINARY MEDICINE PRIZE: Dairy cows called by names give more milk than cows that are nameless. What's true of livestock is also true of employees. Cows give more milk when you refer to them by name, just as employees get more work done when called by name. I make it a point to use a person's name when giving instructions or critical feedback. "Bob, finish up the TPS report pronto!", "Brenda, why can't you do something as simple as take dictation?", or "Bill, you're going to have to stay late tonight to implement this new program feature we need." When you call out employees by name, they know you're paying personal attention to them and will get more done.

PHYSICS PRIZE: Pregnant women don't tip over due to spine anatomical adaptations. It turns out humans have evolved a particular lumbar spine curvature to account for the shift in center of mass of pregnant women. That's good to know. I was always annoyed at the coddling treatment pregnant women get. They're adapted to standing up and perfectly capable of continuing to work on their feet. Now, I've got evidence to shut people up when I suggest that women not take a load off and continue to stand and work like the rest of the productive workforce.

BIOLOGY PRIZE: Kitchen refuse can be reduced more than 90% in mass by using bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas
. I personally know all about crappy research, but this example of crap research really takes the cake. Sometimes you strike gold in a stinking pile of poo. I can totally relate to the researchers of this project. I have to sift through mountains of crap work from my employees. Despite the immense amount of dung, I do usually find something usable. Even the stinking pile of software my company releases has a use somewhere. If there wasn't value even in crap, I couldn't continue running my company.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Capitalist Prozac

The U.S. surprisingly ranks as one of the world's most depressed countries.  In non-intuitive results, less developed countries fare far better on national depression surveys than the U.S. and other developed countries.  American workers apparently feel pressure to achieve grand, unrealistic dreams that most of them will never be able to achieve.  Few are destined to be mega rich and famous; most people are destined to be cubicle rats.  Only few people have enough drive and perseverance to rise the ranks of power and money.

Fortunately, the solutions to this widespread depression are simple.  According to the article, people in less developed nations tend to be ostracized and even jailed for admitting mental weaknesses like depression.  Naturally, surveyed people in these countries tend to have fewer reported instances of depression.  It's a prime example of market forces at work.  Provide a disincentive for depression, and it will disappear.

Also, according to the article:
"In strikingly undeveloped countries, Kessler says, people don't talk about being fulfilled. They're often just focused on making it through the day."
This just shows what I've been espousing all along.  If you're keeping your workers busy enough, they don't have time to think.  When they're too inundated with work to think, they don't have time to do non-productive things like get depressed.  Idle workers are troublesome workers.

Finally, we need to dispel this misinterpreted notion of equality in this country.  There are bosses and there are employees.  If you're a grunt, accept that fact.  When we can deflate expectations of the underlings, they can't become disappointed with their careers and will be far less likely to become depressed.  Employees who know their place in the corporate hierarchy don't waste time claiming depression.  They just play their role working for the company.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Exercise doesn't control your weight

Everyday the worker grunts leave work around 5 and head straight to the gym to run like rats on treadmills, cycle like fools on bikes, and do their roadrunner impressions on elliptical machines. Why does this pointless ritual get repeated day after day? No matter how much they exercise, they still end up being fat slobs. It turns out that exercise is actually counter-productive for weight loss and weight control. If they want to control their weight, they'd be better served with eating less and stop wasting time going to the gym.

As PHB, I feel it's my duty to do my part to stop this madness. I make all my employees skip lunch and continue working. That way they're not consuming fattening calories and continue burning calories working. Keeping them well past 5 p.m. prevents them from wasting time at the gym. That's energy and time better spent being productive instead of running no where on a treadmill.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Economy down, productivity up

The "down" economy has been good for us pointy haired bosses.  Employees are being let go, which has been great for cutting the dead wood in the company.  As an added bonus, productivity from the remaining workforce has gone up even as their pay and benefits have gone down.  It's a winning combination.  Fewer people on the payroll, lower wages, and increased productivity.  The "bad" economy has been pretty good if you ask me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Genetically perfecting the new worker

It's still a mystery as to why people need to sleep.  It does not appear to serve much of a function other than to waste nearly a third of life lying in a bed.  Wouldn't it be great if less sleep (or even no sleep!) was necessary?  People could work longer hours and get more stuff done.

Well, it turns out that the amount of sleep a person needs is genetically controlled.  At the moment, only 3% of the population seems to have the gene that allows them to thrive on 5-6 hours of sleep a day.  So far, genetic engineering has been focused on improving food crops and curing certain rare debilitating diseases.  That's all fine and good, but to have a bigger impact, we should start finding a way to genetically engineer our next generation of workers to require less sleep.  With the huge economic benefit of a workforce which sleeps less and works more, we should be devoting a lot more resources engineering a more wakeful workforce.

Until that breakthrough happens though, the PHB can still induce caffeinated productivity in his employees and try screening for the non-sleepers during hiring.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Love of money is a virtue

The cliche of money as the root of all evil is pure fallacy.  It's the spouting of misguided teachings and lefty socialist thought.  To explore this idea, we can turn to the teachings of the late Reverend Ike.  Reverend Ike challenged the orthodoxy by asserting that money and material wealth were signs of virtue rather than tools of temptation.  Having great material wealth is a sign of a blessing from God.  Rather than money being evil, it is "the lack of money [that] is the root of all evil."

As a PHB, you are in a higher paid position of power than your underlings.  There is nothing wrong with you having more money and power.  It is a sign of divine blessing that you out-earn and boss around your employees.  The fact that they are still slaving away under your command is a sign that they are either lazy and not helping themselves or are being punished for their sins.

There is no reason to be ashamed of wealth and power.  And there is nothing wrong in not sharing any of your hard earned cash.  One last parting lesson we can learn from Reverend Ike is that "the best thing you can do for the poor is not be one of them."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Executive Power

Bosses are not supposed to be nice.  To lead a group of people, you have to be commanding and willing to step on toes; you will probably even have to slam your boots down on those said toes.  Playing nice to your underlings will only result in them walking all over you.  When executives get abusive, things get done.

Being a jerk leader is an effective way to get the most out of your largely lazy and unmotivated underlings.  Steve Jobs, Michael Eisner, and Larry Ellison did not become successful bosses by being nice guys.  They were all infamous for their temper tantrums and general nasty treatment of their underlings.  Their abusive behavior was an asset that helped them rise to the top.

Research shows that mean behavior at work improves people's perception of your competence.  They may not like you, but they'll think you're smarter and better than them.  That's the way you solidify your position of authority and get the grunts working harder.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Salary inflation

One of the things I hate doing is negotiating a salary with new hires.  It's always a struggle against the new greedy employee.  They want to mooch as much money as possible off me and my company while I need to make smart business decisions and minimize overhead.  This is one of the reasons I prefer outsourcing.  Foreign workers are just a lot cheaper than domestics ones, but I can't always understand all these blasted accents.

Fortunately, with the economy in the gutter, it's easier to find people willing to work for less (and often even to work for free as an unpaid intern!).  With the surge in popularity of frugality and thriftiness, people are learning to live with less.  On one blog, someone writes about how they managed to thrive financially on a $20K income.  That's what I like to hear!  People don't actually need as much salary as they think they do.  It's entirely plausible to live on a below average salary because the average worker salary is just far too high.  If we can lower employee wages, businesses can lower their costs and re-invest in corporate growth more effectively.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Puff up your resume

One of the ways to make yourself important enough to become a pointy haired boss is to gain credentials that allow you to rise through the ranks. In a past post, I wrote about tips for making yourself an authority. Those steps get your foot in the door. You will still need to take further steps to give yourself more resumé credibility.

After establishing the perception of being an authority, you need to acquire official titles and awards to put on your resumé. This can be done via internet and mail order organizations which will readily provide certifications and awards to your specifications. However, this approach can raise red flags if you choose a company that's too well known and may have a reputation for being a sham organization. It is better to create your own organization where you have complete control over the organization's public image and can control all aspects of the certifications and awards you bestow upon yourself.

Take the case of Nurse Betty. She was not even a true registered nurse, but used a fictitious nurse association to bestow an award upon herself and give herself credibility as a medical practitioner. She managed to make everyone believe that she was a nurse and established herself as a nursing authority with her ruse. Her only mistake was going too far over the top by throwing an extravagant banquet in her own honor.

I myself ascended through the ranks by forming several "institutes" and companies and putting myself in high ranking positions in those organizations. That gave me instant importance and allowed me to become more important in my area of "expertise." Boosting your resumé with organizations you control is a great PHB tool.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The 10-hour workday

Utah is performing an experiment with 10-hour workdays as a way to save energy costs and reduce employee time wasted commuting.  I think this is brilliant, but not for the reasons most people think.  Having employees work only four days a week is completely unacceptable in my book.  But having them work longer hours is pretty smart from the PHB perspective.  The longer hours put into work means less work the PHB has to do.  Shifting workload is a decidedly good thing.

The workweek alteration experiment should be carried to its logical conclusion.  Twelve hour (or longer) workdays would be ideal.  That way the employees could commute in two hours earlier than everyone else and leave two hours later.  This would cut down their commute times because there would be less traffic on the roads at 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.  If we further extend the workweek to be every day instead of just five days a week, further improvements could be realized.  Mondays and Fridays are always the least productive days for employees.  At the beginning of the week, they need to get back into the work flow after time off.  At the end of the week, they're in their "getting ready for the weekend" mode.  If we eliminate this gap of non-work, productivity will go up.

It's high time we changed our strict 9-5 M-F work schedule.  Playing around with increasing those hours and days could realize lots of benefits for your company.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Commuting Dogs

I've seen it all now.  There are now dogs that commute from the suburbs to the metro center and back again.  They hop on the train from the suburbs and ride into the city center.  They've learned to get off at the right stops so that they can take advantage of the more plentiful food scavenging in the city.  After a day of begging, yapping, and cleaning up dropped food, they hop back on the train and ride back to the burbs.

Now if only we could find some way to train them to come into work.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Around the clock

In a dangerous precedent, employees at T-mobile are suing for being on call after work.  Have you ever heard of anything more ridiculous?  They were hired to do a job, and sometimes after hours tasks will be required.  I expect my employees to answer my calls immediately whenever I need.  That's part of the job.  If their lazy asses don't want to answer my calls because of unimportant things like dinner or their not being "at work," then that is certainly their prerogative; and it is my prerogative to fire them for not being available at my whim.

The world works on a 24/7 schedule.  Being connected at all times to the workplace is a reality.  If employees have to be given time away from work, businesses will surely fail.  Wanting overtime pay for regular work expectations sounds like whining from lazy and greedy workers.  Next thing you know, they're going to want to be paid for doing nothing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The positives of negativity

Counting your blessings isn't necessarily the best way to improve your positive vibes.  I always thought that phrase was an irritating truism uttered by annoyingly perky, holier than thou goody two shoes.  It turns out that my opinion isn't too far off from the truth.

The half empty/half full debate isn't the important point in improving your outlook.  Instead, it's about contemplating what would happen if the glass was already completely empty.  The negative thought experiment ironically makes you feel better about your less than ideal current situation.  In the case of the pointy haired boss managing slacker employees, you can lower your blood pressure over insufficiently productive employees with this negative imagination exercise.  Imagine how even more unproductive they would be without you prodding and goading them (i.e. managing) them.  Heck, the grunts probably wouldn't do any work at all without your PHB hand guiding them.  Learn to appreciate your positive influence by imagining the worse consequences of you not being such a good PHB.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gaining Legitimacy

If you've been paying attention to the news recently, you'll no doubt have heard about Clinton's trip to N. Korea to free two American reporters and Webb's trip to Myanmar to free the loon who swam to Aung San Suu Kyi's mansion.  The government invariably screws up anytime it interferes where it shouldn't be. Those idiots got themselves into international hot water, and a lot of time and resources were unnecessarily wasted getting them out of their self-created mess.

On the flip side, the governments of N. Korea and Myanmar made huge gains from the events. By getting the U.S. to come out and deal with them diplomatically, they've established their legitimacy as regimes. So, what is the pointy haired boss lesson illustrated in these current events? Solidifying your legitimacy is a matter of controlling what others want and not giving into demands that weaken your position. When dealing with your workers, you control the purse strings which. Your underlings want to get paid from monetary resources you control; you act like a responsible PHB and make sure they're working for their paychecks. When you can force negotiations from other parties instead of letting them dictate the action, that instantly raises your relative position of power.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Autism linked to PHB success

Autism in its many forms causes numerous social problems for the people that are afflicted by it.  They often have trouble mingling with the the general public because they are perceived as not quite normal.  However, they can have intense and obsessive focus.  When that single-track focus is harnessed, they can be incredibly productive in a corporate environment.  One company is already hiring these underutilized workers and reaping the benefits.

I believe that this is a great recipe for PHB success.  You can let the autistic employees work relentlessly for you and not really have to interact with them because they don't particularly like social interactions anyhow.  And you never have to worry about them leaving the company either.  Their social awkwardness makes it nearly impossible for them to be employed anywhere else.  You in essence get a relentless worker who's bonded to you, and they get a job that they wouldn't otherwise have.  It's a win-win situation all around.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

PHB Profile: Sylvio Berlusconi

How many people do you know who are tried for corruption charges six times and get off each time?  I only know of one person, and he's the focus of this PHB profile.  You can't get much more pointy haired bad ass than Sylvio Berlusconi.  The man rose through Italy's political ranks to run the country and used his PHB prowess during his ascent.  Charges of tax fraud, bribery, corruption, false accounting, and embezzlement have been brought against him by numerous parties.  But everything just bounced off of him and never stuck.

Even more amazing is his bold ability to use his power and influence to have public affairs with women five decades younger than him.  Such infidelities would ruin most political figures, but not Sylvio.  He has the savvy to use his media empire to deflect the bad publicity and can even demand that his wife publicly kowtow to him for the accusations of infidelity.  That's the sign of a true alpha PHB, deftly wielding power and influence to his advantage.

Pointy Hair Pride gives its salute to you, Mr. Berlusconi.  You are a shining beacon to PHBs everywhere.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Downside of Positivity

For an important pointy haired boss, a crucial task is keeping the worker underlings under control.  Having uppity employees is a royal pain in the arse and a detriment to your PHB-ness.  Establishing your status as the alpha dog is of utmost importance.  Giving unreasonable tasks, criticizing for no good reason, etc. are all important tools in your worker control arsenal.

Some may argue that the negative approach lowers workplace morale and drops productivity, but that's just an uninformed opinion.  Recent research shows that positive reinforcement can actually be bad for people.  The positivity actually magnifies their realization of their lowliness and incompetence.  Positive reinforcement leads to false hope and eventually ends up being worse if you had kept them down in their place all along.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mailbin: Letter from the boss


As the CEO of this organization, I have resigned myself to the fact
that Barack Obama is our President and that our taxes and government
fees will increase in a BIG way. To compensate for these increases,
our prices would have to increase by about 10%.  But since we cannot
increase our prices right now due to the dismal state of the economy,
we will have to lay off sixty of our employees instead. This has
really been bothering me, since I believe we are family here and I
didn't know how to choose who would have to go.

So, this is what I did. I walked through our parking lots and found
sixty 'Obama' bumper stickers on our employees' cars and have decided
these folks will be the ones to let go. I can't think of a more fair
way to approach this problem. They voted for change, I gave it to

I will see the rest of you at the annual company picnic.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Palin Effect

Here at Pointy Hair Pride, we dig Sarah Palin.  She embodies the leadership qualities that every successful pointy haired boss should aspire to.  She's smart, well-spoken, decisive, charsimatic, and bold.  The liberal media is having a field day with her recent resignation, but in the end, it's Palin and her supporters that will have the last laugh.

Sarah Palin shows how much of a badass PHB she is by resigning the governorship of Alaska.  She already showed she can maintain the reins of power in the state while not actually being there.  She took off for a presidential election campaign and did what any good PHB would do: make someone else take care of things.  Sheer brilliance!  Now, she's outgrown the small pond of Alaska and needs to move on to bigger and better things.  Like a true point guard diva, she can pass the ball and leave the game anytime she wants.  The critics who say she's shirking her responsibilities don't understand that the boss can do whatever he or she wants.  That's part of being in power.  If she chooses to quit to do something else, that's her prerogative, and the only thing the lefties can do is whine.

After some well deserved R&R and perhaps some super fun aerial M16 hunting of some big game, I'm sure Palin will rise through the political ranks and prod our current lame duck president into sensible policy decisions.  She's rising through the ranks quickly, and I for one am inspired by this rockstar PHB.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lower Wages and Productivity

I read an interesting article recently about wage pressures and productivity.  Apparently, increasing wages without a greater increase in productivity is bad for economic growth and results in that terrible thing we call inflation.  As said in the article:

"The Fed closely monitors developments in productivity and wages to see if inflation is getting out of hand.
While rising wages and benefits are good for workers, if those gains outstrip increases in productivity it can create serious inflation problems as businesses are forced to increase the cost of their products to cover the higher wage demands.  If workers are more productive, though, businesses are able to increase their pay and cover the costs with the increased output of goods and services."
So, increasing worker wages just leads to inflation, but increased productivity results in greater profits for the company.  This is in line with my experience.  It's best to pay your workers as little as possible.  Paying any more would be unpatriotic and bad for the economy by contributing to runaway inflation.  On the other hand, you really do need to squeeze as much work as possible out of every single worker.  This is where non-monetary motivational elements come into play.  Intimidation, micromanagement, emotional manipulation, and other PHB tools of worker control allow you to minimize what you have to pay in wages while maximizing the amount of work you can get out of your employees.  It's smart business, and it's good for the nation's overall economy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Food chain

Chaining workers to their desks is against the law in this country, which is rather unfortunate.  You'd think that OSHA and Dept. of Labor would see the sense in boosting worker production by keeping them at their desks longer.  But short of using a physical chain to keep your underlings tied to their work, there are other subtle ways of implementing desk bondage.

One thing I've done at my company is to abolish lunch breaks.  I'm not actually legally bound to provide a lunch break, so I figure why waste the time and money paying for my workers to lolligag and eat?  Consequently, I don't provide a company kitchen, microwave, or a water cooler.  They can bring their own water bottles if they need to drink, and now with the invention of a USB powered microwave, they can bring their own microwave to work to reheat their food.

Now, don't get me wrong, I still don't like having my underlings eat on the job.  But this brilliant invention works as a nice way of virtually chaining the worker to his desk.  I allow food (but not breaks!) at the desk if it keeps the grunts at their desks longer and working longer.  Couple this baby with a usb powered water cooler and a usb powered toilet, and I may be able to keep everyone at work all the time!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Outsourcing for fun and profit

If there's one thing I hate about paying domestic employees, it's that I have to pay them.  Just about the only plus side to using an North American employee is that they usually have a good command of spoken English, but even that's not a given considering how poorly educated this country is.  Domestic employees are just far too expensive for what little work you can extract from them.

A better option for driving the success of your PHB aspirations is to consider foreign outsourcing.  Some people may say it's un-American to send money out of the country, but I say what can be more American than wanting to earn money and get ahead?  What is this country about if not for taking advantage of others for own own profit?  Overseas outsourcing is great for this.  Foreign outsourced workers answer your beck and call because your money is worth more than their third world currency.  They work long hours because you're in total control of their financial purse-strings.  And best of all, they're a hell of a lot cheaper than their domestic worker counterparts.  You can realize a 75% cost (or more!) in wage payment costs by just outsourcing and firing your domestic employees.

As a final note, you can save even more money by the fact that the foreign workers are overseas and highly unlikely to have any legal protections.  If they aren't protected by labor laws, you don't have to worry about regulations on their hours or their treatment on the job.  You don't even have to pay them on a regular basis since they are at your mercy. If you know you're going to drop them anyhow for another cheaper outsourced worker, you can just not pay the outsourced worker.  Just say that you'll pay after a certain milestone is met (which of course, you'll never do) and then switch over to the new cheaper worker.  You get continuity of work and minimal overhead from worker wages.  It's a PHB win-win situation!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fake it 'til you make it

If you haven't achieved PHB status yet and fear you'll never get there, don't worry. You just have to apply some PHB self-esteem psychology to help yourself along. We've all heard the phrase before: "Fake it 'til you make it." What does it mean? Put simply, if you want to become the big hot shot, you've got to get into the right mindset and get the proper big shot PHB attitude. Dream big. Act bigger.

When I was first starting out, I wasn't the queso grande that I am now. I didn't command my horde of underlings yet. What I did was envision myself as the boss commanding everyone to do my bidding. Then I went out and registered and incorporated two companies: Systema Intelligentsia Micro (IMS) and Fungal Merge Research Institute (FMRI). I promptly made myself president and CEO of both companies. That gave me my own companies and gave me important high level positions in those companies. Nobody but me had to know that I was the only person in those companies. They were perfect resume fodder. And the chicks totally dig it when I tell them that I'm a big shot CEO of a company.

So, I was faking it until I made it. In fact, I still fake it every day. It helps me dream big and feel as important as I deserve to be.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Divide and Conquer

Revolutions, coups, and other power deposements share one common trait: the unification of the rebel faction.  If you plan on keeping control of your minions, you need to keep this fact in mind.  Your employees are not your friends; it's a dog eat dog corporate world, and you will get steamrolled if you allow your employees to rally.

The usual rules apply for managing workers.  Bust up unions, make them sign contracts that bond them to servitude and relinquishes all of their rights, etc.  But once you have them through corporate doors, you'll have to maintain a divide and conquer strategy lest there be a peasant revolution amongst the low level workers.

Employees work on a need-to-know basis.  Don't give them any more information than they need to complete their task.  Discourage interaction amongst employees.  They don't need to know about anyone else.  In case they do start interacting, tell them to stop gabbing and get back to work.  You don't want employees talking amongst themselves because that means that they are: a) not doing any work and b) potentially plotting ways to circumvent your authority.

Insert yourself into all employee interactions.  Make sure no meetings are called except by you.  You can't have employees congregating for any reason other than your approved reasons.  We all know what happens when the commoners gather; letting the masses form groups (like unions, clubs, or social cliques) will only lead to long term uprising.  Quash the potential danger early and maintain your tight grip of the reins.

Finally, extinguish the spirits of the workers.  No one likes perky employees.  Happy workers are more likely to interact.  Isolate these problematic workers and do everything you can to stamp out their happy demeanor.  Somber, emotionless employees naturally maintain their isolation and obediently work without complaint.  These are your ideal employees.

Your employees can hurt the company with a mass revolt.  You can't beat back the superior numbers, but you can certainly keep them controlled.  Divide them first, and the conquering will be easy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bad economy = PHB advantage

The June unemployment numbers are in, and they aren't pretty.  Depending on how you crunch the numbers, the nation's unemployed are estimated anywhere from 9.5% to 16.5%.  While this may seem dismal and depressing, it's actually a boon for pointy haired bosses everywhere.

The job market is so weak now that people are desperate for work.  So desperate in fact that they are even willing to work as unpaid interns in hopes of landing a full time job in the future.  What could be better?  You're getting completely free labor!  All you have to give back in exchange is some work.  Sign me up!  I'll shift my workload over to an unpaid worker.  If you can manage to fly under the radar of the labor department, you could even start displacing your paid workers and reduce your wage costs.  The unemployment news sounds grim, but it comes with its own silver lining.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dream the impossible dream

You have to dream big to be a success.  It's no different when you're already el queso grande.  If you don't envision anything but small peanuts, you'll never have anything more than mini nuts.  Be daring and bold!  Get some goddamn cajones.  Don't ever let negative words like limitations, feasibility, or practicality get in your way.

I'll give you an example from my own experience of dreaming big.  My programming team was having trouble getting our product launched.  They were whining something about it not being possible for the user input to be both yes and no at the same time.  I told the weanies, "to hell with you and your concern about logical fallacies!  Just get the #%!^@^$ program working!" They were being held back by what they saw as fundamental rules of logic.  I saw it as a minor speedbump on the street to my big pay day.  I was dreaming big on my goals and had the vision of the end product.  The programming team was stuck in the piddily little details like feasilbility and implementation.

Learn to dream the impossible.  Reality doesn't have to slow you down.  As the annointed PHB, it's your job to think big.  You pay the underlings to figure out how to make it happen.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Make Yourself an Authority

In a previous post, I talked about how competence was not necessary to managerial success.  One reason for this is because there are people who are experts in a particular subject or field.  You only need to give the impression of being knowledgeable and competent.  The art of misdirection is key here.

If you really research many so-called "experts," what you find is that the vast majority of them have no idea what the hell they're talking about.  Once you get past the superficial stuff, they're no more capable than the average Joe off the street.  What sets them apart is the aura of being an authority.

So, how do you make yourself an authority without actually going through the work of becoming a real expert?  First off, learn the lingo.  You have to sound sophisticated and in the know.  You don't have to know what the words mean, but you need to understand what contexts they sounds correct in.  Learn the fine art of technobabble b.s.

Next, invoke seniority and time in the field.  Nothing makes you an expert faster than having spent time in a field, even if you learned nothing during that period.  Spout off figures like "I've been doing XX for YY years, and this is how I know it's done."  The more years you can say you've been doing something the more authoritative you'll be.

Lastly, assert yourself.  Tell other people that they're wrong, and come up with reasons that you're right.  Be forceful and adamant.  If you seem to waiver in your convictions, you'll be perceived as a loud-mouth dunce.  Act like an authority and strong leader, and people will perceive you as such.

In the off chance you do run into an actual expert and authority, not to worry.  All you need to do is bring the other person down.  Criticize anything possible that you can think of and attack their credibility.  If you can't bring your perceived authority up, you merely need to bring everyone else's down.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Double Vision

A major problem with many companies is that the managements vision doesn't necessarily coincide with that of the employees of the company.  Usually, the management wishes to make a ton of money while paying as little as possible to the lazy workers, while the workers have a vision of the company paying them for doing as little work as possible.  This conflict of vision poses a serious problem for the general success of the company.

This is where a strong leader's force of will becomes key.  If you can't get your worker sheep to obediently fall in line, you will have to use more forceful techniques.  Actual physical force against your employees would be ideal, but would probably draw the ire of several government regulatory agencies.  Instead, you can bring new visions to your employees: visions of pink slips floating before their eyes and the imminent threat of your foot kicking their sorry asses out the door.

Instill a culture of control via your financial leash.  Nothing motivates like the idea of the disappearing paycheck.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Secret: Competence (not required)

If there were a secret to pointy hair success, it would be this: competence in your field is completely optional.  It's counter-intuitive.  To rise the ranks, you think you would need to know what you're talking about.  But that is simply not the case.  Successful bosses and managers rise to the top because they aren't bogged down with little details of their business.  Being in authority means it is more important to keep control of your workers instead of wasting precious mental resources on understanding how your products work.

Workers are hired to do one thing: work.  You instruct them on what you want accomplished, and it is their job to get it done.  You don't need to know how anything is done.  They are being paid to do it for you.  Competence in the work is for the hired help, not the head honcho calling the shots.  If the boss was competent enough to do the job himself, why would he bother paying someone else to do it?  The PHB's skill is in keeping the peons in line, not in knowing how to get things done for the company.

The truth of this idea becomes even more apparent in the context of the globalized economy.  With cheap overseas labor, there's no point in you as the PHB knowing how to do anything.  It's far cheaper and more effective to outsource to foreign workers (which is another topic for a future discussion).  It would cost more time and resources for you to gain competence than it would be to just hire a foreign worker to get things done.

So, now it's no longer a secret.  I've revealed the essential key to my pointy haired success.  Competence is not required.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Zoning In on Zoning Out

A relatively recent study in Australia showed that internet surfing helped people maintain their productivity levels.  Employees who spent less than 20% of their time at work surfing had 9% higher productivity levels.  Well, that's fine and dandy, but there are two serious issues.  First, why would I as an employer want to pay for my employees to be doing non-work related activities at work?  Ok, if it boosts their productivity, that's great, so long as they're not soaking up a salary for doing nothing.

Also, those numbers don't add up.  If an employee is wasting 20% of their time surfing, the 9% increase in productivity sure as hell isn't making up for the time not spent working.  Overall, you're better off cutting off the leisure internet surfing and having lower productivity but more total work done.  Workers get less productive if they have to work longer without breaks, but the important thing is that those longer hours still result in more total work done.  Workers only need to take a break when productivity hits zero (after which a skilled PHB can usually still coerce a little extra effort out of them).  Ultimately, I find the study to be completely worthless, and it was probably done by a bunch of lazy workers trying to justify their slacking.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Seven Levels of PHB

  1. Flat Top (FT) - You've got a bad hair do that should have died out in the 80's.  You ain't got no hair loft, and you're basically on the ground floor.
  2. Hairspray Wannabe (HW) - You're in the fake it 'til you make it stage.  Your hair may not point upward, but hairspray does wonders for making it look like it does.
  3. Madonna Cones (MC) - At this point, you can tilt your head and joust Madonna in her cone armor.
  4. Mount Olympus (MO) - You have achieved true hair elevation.  Clouds form around your head and shroud the peaks in a divine air of mystery.
  5. High Level Despot (HLD) - Workers tremble at your feet and fear the wrath of your pointy hair.  You can manipulate them at will.
  6. Autocrat Anonymous (AA) - Not only are you a total HLD to your underlings, but you've also disappeared off the radar of the higher ups in the company.  You have security via obscurity and the power to control minions.
  7. Emperor's New Clothes - You are totally in charge and have everyone under your command.  You could walk around the office naked and say that you're wearing clothes sewn from gold threads; no one would dare question you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Principles of Employee Control

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about how to better tighten the reins at work.  My employees are forgetting their place and not following my orders immediately and with vigor.  Every so often, you have to switch things up a little.  Employee control is a dynamic process.  Though most of the work is in the initial establishing of your superiority, you still have to do some work to maintain the alpha dog domination.

Right now, I'm focusing on 5 principles from the PHB Research Institute to re-establish my firm control of my underlings.  These principles are known by their MERGE acronym, which stand for: Maltreat, Ensnare, Regulate, Grift, Exhaust

  • Maltreat - Employees are not your friends.  They are underlings whose sole purpose is to serve you.  If you show any softness, they will take advantage of your weakness.
  • Ensnare - Find every possible thing to hold over your employees to establish your dominance and control over them.  The paycheck is only one method.  Crushing their self esteem and making them dependent on you is another.  There are many ways to skin the cat here.
  • Regulate - Workers under you are chaotic lazy dunces.  If they don't have strict rules (with harsh consequences for not following), they simply will not get anything done.  Lay down the law.
  • Grift - Remember, your workers are not trustworthy, so there's no reason to always tell the truth.  Lying and cheating serve a useful purpose for maintaining control over your employees.
  • Exhaust - Lest they idle long enough to realize what you're doing, you must keep your employees constantly working.  Try to bring them to the edge of burning out.  If they're too tired to do anything else but work, they can't challenge your authority.  Don't worry about burning them out.  Employees are always replaceable.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Zen and the Art of Micromanagement

A widely known, but poorly executed secret amongst the Pointy Haired Bosses of the world is that micromanagement is a highly effective technique. Sure, it can be time consuming, but you get paid the big bucks to make everyone else work more efficiently. If that means constantly looking over their shoulders and getting your nose into their business, then so be it. That is what is needed to keep those workers in line and in constant production.

We all know that employees are lazy. They won't do any work unless constantly prodded. If they were only as driven as you instead of mindless zombies soaking up paychecks, you'd be rising the ranks faster than the air over Washington DC. But since they are only motivated to do nothing, you have to light the fire under them. You need to crack the whip and put them in their place. Break their feisty attitudes and make them into company sheep.

But how do you go about your task of micromanaging your employees? Everyone PHB eventually develops his own style, so there's no one set path. Here a few pointers that will help:

  1. Constantly ask them about their progress. Keep them on their toes and under your watchful eyes. If they know you're not looking, they will surely slack off and be unproductive.
  2. Frequently change your instructions. This will also keep you employees more alert and condition them to your demands.
  3. Make everything dependent on you. If you don't delegate power or authority (and you never should!), your underlings will have to constantly come back to you for input and further instructions. This makes keeping tabs of them that much easier when they're constantly coming to you.
  4. Give instructions on how to do everything, even if you have no idea what you're talking about. The more aspects of the employee's behavior you can control, the better. You're in charge because you're smarter and better than the grunts under you. They need the guidance. Also, telling your employees how to do everything solidifies your power over them.
  5. As a corollary to the above tip, regularly tell them that they're not doing things right, i.e. not doing it your way. Temporarily insert yourself into their work temporarily and show them the way you do things.
  6. Constantly chatter and make comments about things completely irrelevant to the task at hand. It's essential to force your employees to have to listen to you. Then tell them that they are working too slow. This is an effective method for breaking your employees' will.
  7. Criticize your employees and tell them they're incompetent every chance you get, and make statements about how great you are. This will guilt them into working more and harder.
Take these tips as a baseline for your micromanaging ventures, and work them into your own personal pointy haired micromanaging style.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Four I's

Some people are natural PHB's.  They achieve their impressive hair peaks by sheer genetic luck. Effortlessly rising through the ranks comes from their innate abilities to bend others to their will and take advantage of their underlings. They are the enviable naturals.  The rest of us have to wear fake conical hairpieces and work improving our PHB abilities (though hopefully not working too hard).  To help you along in your quest for cosmological elevation, keep these four I's in mind:

Incompetence. You don't need to be able to do everything.  You hire employees to take care of your tasks for you.  You don't need to be competent when you can offload responsibilities onto others.  If you have no desire to do a task or don't even know how to do it, don't worry about it.  Just make someone else do it.

. Closely related to intentional incompetence is willful ignorance. You don't need to know everything. It's the employee's job to know how to do things.  They are getting paid for their knowledge and labor so that you don't have to waste your precious time doing sundry tasks.  Focus your energies on giving orders and controlling the flock.  Don't waste your time learning about things when you're just going to order someone else to do the work.

. You could be nice to your employees. But I don't subscribe to that silly line of thought. You are the boss, and they are your underlings. You should remember that there is a clear hierarchical power structure. You are are higher up the chain, so order around and take advantage of your underlings at will. It's your duty to get maximum effort from your workers, not to be buddies with them.

Infrequency. How often should you need to do actual work? Ideally, never. But since it's not an ideal world, you probably will have to do some real work every so often. Keep those periods to a bare minimum though. Fill your time doing stuff that you want to do. Leave the dull work stuff to your underlings.  They are paid to work so that you don't have to.

As a bonus, here is one more I to keep in mind: yourself.  Being a PHB means that you should be most concerned with número uno. Your actions should be driven by self-interest above all.  Keep the fifth I at the forefront.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

PHB Profile: Robert Nardelli

Fewer people bring the auto into autocrat like Bob Nardelli.  As current CEO of the bankrupt Chrysler, Nardelli exudes confidence and authority.  Taking over a troubled company for an official salary of only $1, he clearly shows his confidence in his leadership abilities.  If anyone could have turned around the troubled automaker, surely it was the former military man.  His dictatorial, no nonsense approach would have been the perfect solution for the ailing company if it had only wooed him away from Home Depot earlier.

Before his tenure at Chrysler, Nardelli steadied the helm of giant home improvement retailer Home Depot.  He brought in the iron-handed, centralized power structure from his military days into the chaotic, hippy, free-wheeling culture of Home Depot.  Under his watch, he crushed the uppity free spirt of the employees and instituted a strict power hierarch, an unyielding regimen for dealing with customers, and instilled discipline within the ranks of grunt workers.  He was a shining example for PHB's everywhere when he turned Home Depot into a more appropriate namesake: Home Despot.

The company board stood by their strong leader at the beginning, but eventually their weakness was revealed.  Unrest amongst the common shareholders eventually forced Nardelli out of the company.  Nardelli fell to one of the unfortunate consequences of a democratic system, the ignorance of the masses.  Their limited mental capacities couldn't see the same vision as he did, and he was ultimately forced out of power.

But even an uprising of the unenlightened masses can't keep genius down.  Home Depot will regret his loss soon enough, as will Chrysler in all likelihood.  Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Nardelli will ascend again to take his crown amongst the PHB greats.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Right of Way

Nowadays, there is a lot of pansy talk about having discussions to resolve disagreements and trying to build consensus amongst a team. Well, all I have to say is bullshit!  I can't believe I have to listen to this hogwash.  As a proud Pointy Haired Boss, I don't have to grow moobs and deal with disagreement.  As a famous PHB once said, "I am the decider!" The ultimate decision lies in my hands for a reason.

You do occasionally have to put on a show of listening to input from your underlings to prevent an open revolt.  You may even glean something useful from the act (though my guess would be probably not). If you do gain something from underling input, remember to claim it as your own since everything they do belongs to you anyhow. In the end, you can choose to ignore everything your underlings say because they are of little consequence. You are higher up the food chain and dictate what happens. Being right is the automatic privilege of being a PHB.  The common adage may be that might doesn't make right; but whoever coined that phrase was probably an puny underling. As a PHB, you outrank your underlings. This is a clear case where might does indeed make you right.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Laziest Countries

In a survey recently released by the OECD (a.k.a. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, not be confused with the pesky Organization of Employees for Comfortable Desks), countries were ranked based on how long its citizens spent sleeping and eating.  Obviously, such a study is interesting to Pointy Hair Pride since those are both activities which take away from time our employees are working for us.

Disappointingly, the U.S. ranks pretty high with the average person sleeping 8.5 hours a night.  That's unbelievable!  What are all these people doing sleeping so much?  I was also sorely disappointed with the Koreans and Japanese who were still holding their own with 8 hours.  Sure, they were pretty low in the rankings, but 8 hours of sleep is way too much for people that need to get work done.  The French topped the list at 9 hours average sleep per night.  It's no wonder they get nothing done over there.

When you factor in time spent eating, things look even worse.  The Japanese spend nearly 2 hours a day eating.  I used to think they were such a productive people.  And the French spend over 2 hours a day just eating!  I don't see how anyone get waste that much time eating.  Personally, I think people just need to grab a bite to eat and keep working at their desks.  Taking a lunch break is a terrible waste of productive time.

All in all, the results of the survey are disappointing to me as a PHB.  If my employees are getting that much rest and spending that much time eating, then I'm obviously not keeping tabs on them enough.  I'm not terribly shocked about the French since their leisurely culture never gets anything done anyhow.  I've never hired a Frenchie, and after seeing these survey results, I never will!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

6 Keys for Pointy Haired Success

People think that being a pointy haired boss is easy. Sure, you may not do any actual work and get to boss around the minions doing your bidding. Those are great perks, I won't deny that. What the typical pointy haired aspirant doesn't initially realize is that it takes some hard work to achieve true pointy haired greatness. Here are a few tips for maximizing your pointy hairedness to take you to the next level.

  1. Make your employees do their work.
    Or, more accurately, they should be doing your work. You want the maximal amount of work done for minimal amount of real work on your part. The sooner you can offload your work onto others, the faster you'll ascend the ladder of pointy hairedness.
  2. Keep your employees working. Always.
    The employees under your control should always be doing their work. Employees are all inherently lazy and unmotivated. You'll have to crack the whip by perpetually checking in on progress, making up deadlines so that people work through lunch or over the weekend, etc. Keeping everyone busy to the point of being frazzled makes you look good to the higher up pointy haired ones. If you're already the head honcho, how much work you can wring from your workers is a measure of your greatness.
  3. Realize that you don't need to be competent.
    Who cares if you can't do the job. That's why employees are hired. They are supposed to be doing work for you. You don't need to bother with knowing anything or having any useful skills if you can hire someone else. The only skill you need as the big cheese is being able to control people.
  4. Boss people around.
    Perhaps the most important skill to being a PHB is learning to give orders. What's the point of captaining a ship if you can't even control your crew? If you want other people to do your work for you, you will have to tell them to do your work. When your crew invariably slacks off, you'll have to get them back into line by ordering them back to work. Even if there's no good reason for them to be frantically working, keep them constantly occupied (see point #2) to practice your bossiness and solidify your control of your minions.
  5. Micromanage.
    Following from the previous point, learning to micromanage is crucial. Why this term has such a negative connotation is a mystery to me. Micromanaging is a decidedly good thing! By constantly telling all of your employees what to do, you keep them on their toes. It's an essential skill to acquire for learning to boss people around and control them. You do not necessarily have to be helping (though realize that you probably are because employees are lazy and won't work unless you're hovering over them). Just get your minions used to taking orders all the time to ensure your complete control.
  6. You don't have to be nice.
    Your employees don't have to like you. In fact, it's probably better if they don't. There are two models for running a tight ship. The first is two get your employees to like you and instill an inner motivation. I personally don't like this approach because your employees might start thinking too highly of themselves and leave for greener pastures. The preferred method is to learn to mistreat your employees. Be unreasonable, demand too much, yell and scream, threaten to cut their pay or fire them, and underhandedly criticize them. You can keep your workers cranking in high gear when they live under fear of your wrathful outbursts. At the same time, you can solidify your control by lowering their self-esteem and self-confidence.
Now that you know the six keys to being a successful PHB, go forth and get your boss on!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

PHB Profile: Phillip Purcell

Sometimes management genius is sorely misunderstood by the unenlightened masses.  Such was the case with former Morgan Stanley CEO Phillip Purcell.  From 1997 to 2005, Purcell lead the company forward with his bold leadership moves.  His vision was big as he kept his eyes on the big prize rather; he wisely understood that small clients were small potatoes and inconsequential.

He knew what direction he wanted the company to go, and he had no trouble expressing that.  A daring leader with vision, he knew it was necessary to step on toes during his tenure.  Several people left the company, but that's to be expected with a bold leader.  They obviously quivered in the greatness of Purcell and left through the back door with their tail between their legs.

Unfortunately, his strong leadership was too easily misinterpreted as arrogance by the common workers of the company.  Add to an overblown and completely unjustified 1.45 billion USD judgement against Morgan Stanley, and the board gave into pressure from the masses to release Purcell.  Clearly, bold leadership and authority are under appreciated, else Purcell would still be at the helm leading the company back to greatness.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Bright Side of Recession: Increased Bossiness

By far, the biggest advantage of being el jefe is getting to tell other people what to do.  When other people do your bidding, it lessens the amount of work you have to do.  If you play your cards right, you don't actually have to do any real work.

Every so often (perhaps too often), you get an employee who doesn't like being bossed around all the time.  Those ungrateful punks stick around because you're their primary source of income.  You hold the tenuous reins of control via a monetary leash.  These are your headache employees.  You run the risk of losing these troublesome employees unless you relinquish some your pointy-haired perks or pay them more to put up with you.

Economic downturns, like the current toilet swirling market, are opportunities to deal with these pesky, black sheep employees.  Though the market may be total crap, your grip of the managerial reins tightens.  High unemployment instills the fear of job loss into the hearts of your peons underlings.  Fear is your tool for solidifying your control and securing your place amongst the pointy haired greats. Let your employees know that with so many people looking for jobs that they are easily replaceable. Use the recession to your advantage: push your employees further underneath your thumb or use the recession as an excuse to decrease their pay.  Bonus points if you can accomplish both!

Joseph M. Scandura, incompetent moron, idiot, pompous, stupid, failure, asshole, arrogant, bullshit, micromanager of the year, technologically clueless, ignorant, condescending, senile, dementia