Business is terrible. In the morning, it's down by 100%. And after lunch it gets worse. So the company continues to slide down the tubes. Customers desert us like rates leaving a sinking ship. New business goes everywhere except in through our front door.

Besigheid is mos swak.

Perhaps we should kill the business and put it out of its misery. At the heart of the problem: our reluctance to conform to our boss's demands for meticulously completed timesheets, log books and other trivialities.

It's not that we're idiots. We're competent. Each member of the project team is a skilled professional, technician or artisan. We should know what we're doing, but we don't, no-one's taken the trouble to tell us. A sign on the wall above a colleague's desk says it all: "Don't ask me. I only work here."

The boss, the sales manager, likes to play his hand close to his chest. He reckons that the fewer people who know what's really going on the better.

You can't help admiring the man. If you don't you're fired. So, when the latest deal hit a stack of snags, the big shots came down on our boss like a ton of bricks. He quickly called a meeting of all the sales manne. He used his favourite expression a lot: "I thought I made it clear."

Whatever graft you're into, you've probably heard it before. More than once. And like me, you may have described the guy who said it as "a presumptuous little geek". Which he was, because:


he didn't discuss the deal fully with us before we started;

he ignored the major points, and

he failed to confirm exactly what we had to do.

In brief, he made everything as clear as mud.

Delegation is a concept he finds alien. Because he never shared his vision of the entire project with any other member of the tea, all the manner downed tools when he was called away. And then things got really tough. It's not that the guys are particularly militant. It's just that we didn't know how to continue in his absence.

Our leader, (and I sue the term with derision), would never dream of giving us a peek at his plans or empower any member of the team to act when he wasn't around.

The boss sees himself as a perfectionist. He can do everything. And he can do it better than anybody else. Or so he thinks. Yet his lack of delegation know-how has landed the business in die moeilikheid ... deep in hot water.


He's always too busy to handle on-the-job crises because he spends far too much time doing routine grunt work that he should give to others.

He makes a habit of withholding vital information from the manne in his team.

This means that they often misunderstand what he wants them to do.

So when he's not around or "too busy", work grinds to a stop. When you get demotivated, you become inefficient. Rather than further louse up the deal, you stop work. The deadlines come, the deadlines go ... and fade into oblivion.

If you're serious at an example of how he became an accessory to the murder of the business.

He didn't fully brief Frikkie, a key member of the sale team. Frikkie's competent, but he can't complete the assignment with the rationed information the boss gave him.

So Frikkie becomes uptight. Trying to get more information from the boss is as productive as banging his head against a brick wall. In a frenzy of frustration, he dumps the partially completed assignment in the boss's lap.

Sure the boss can handle it. And he does. He completes the deal. But at what cost? The cost of not having the time to deal with he true responsibilities of a manager.

The boss considers himself a superwork, who can do it all and do it better but only if he does it himself. So he doesn't part with the info or the authority his staff needs to make decisions.

Making decisions is the boss's exclusive territory.

Because there's no opportunity for the manne to grow, the guys look around for graft with better prospects. And the boss finds himself sidelined at promotion time, or in the unemployment queue, because he consistently fails to meet his own performance standards.

If you want to moor the business, play safe. Make no attempt to develop the self-confidence you need to delegate. Always agree to do everything - more than you can comfortably handle to impress members of the board. Keep all high-profile assignment for yourself. With a bit of patience, you'll ultimately achieve your goal: a business with rigor mortis.

Follow this well-trodden path to ruin:


Recruit staff haphazardly. Hire only "yes men" - people who only do what they're told.

Avoid delegating responsibility at all costs.

Make no effort to match tasks with an employee's skills or interests.

Keep all channels of communication between you and your team blocked. Ensure that feedback is kept to the barest minimum. Keep the standards of performance criteria you expect to yourself.

Keep each member of your project team in a watertight compartment so that he doesn't know what any of his colleagues are doing.

 Assiduously sanitise all information that trickles downwards on a need-to-know basis.

When you're around, insist on snooping over every worker's shoulder.

Use bureaucracy to make employee access to needed resources as difficult as possible.

Don't set mutually agreed, predetermined goals. This avoids the need to evaluate individual performance and discuss results.

Make no effort to reward good or even outstanding team performance.

Forget about "customer delight". Concentrate only on profits and inventory build-up.

1. I thought I made it clear
2. Let's not rock the boat
3. We tried that once before
4. Who cares? It's the company time after all
5. I'm the boss. Do as I say
6. I can't stand change
7. We made the cuts, now lets get back to work
8. I'll do it as soon as possible
9. I prefer to work alone
10. Speaking as a Nestlé man
11. Get him on the line!
12. I've got 20 years experience
13. Let's keep it confidential
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