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The Sippy Cup of Madness

At some point in time, we have all probably worked for that “special” manager that has taken a few too many drinks from the sippy cup of madness. Hopefully, you are not one of these people (drinkers); however, recognizing the signs is the first step towards recovery if you are! For those employees out there, you know what I am talking about, those managerial types that resonate with everyone when you read those articles about what not do or say as a manager, or what makes a bad or good manager. The managers that have been drinking from the sippy cup of madness for too long are the ones that get all the little “checks” in the yes column when it comes to “what not to do” as a manager!

Sippy CupThe challenge out there is that most managers that have been drinking from the sippy cup of madness for too long don’t even realize it. Worse yet, if you are an employee who works for a manager who has been drinking from the sippy cup of madness, you need to recognize the signs so you can realize that this isn’t a healthy situation to be in. Typical signs that a manager has been drinking from the sippy cup are as follows:

  • Consistently exhibits passive-aggressive behaviour towards employees, especially when authority or knowledge are questioned
  • Tries to control communication of all types and at all levels (typically by filtering and/or editing messages)
  • Manipulates work situations to ensure that they position themselves in a position of power in all situations
  • Refuses to listen to logic or to consider the opinions/input of subject matter experts
  • Focuses on decisions/solutions that only further their own agenda
  • Relies on business jargon to explain things (that they don’t understand) to staff
  • Provides vague responses and excuses when rationalizing decision making to employees (i.e. “it is that way because I said so”).
  • Believes something to be true/fact because they have said it/repeated it enough times
  • Refuses to accept factual explanations of events if they don’t fit their version of “the truth”
  • Consistently sacrifices long term organizational gain for short term (in the moment) personal “wins.”
  • Distorts the truth/manipulates fact to avoid conflict and/or to get people to do what they want them to do
  • Essentially believes that they are the smartest person in the room at all times

Bottom line, if you work for someone that exhibits more than one of these behaviours on a regular basis, odds are they have been drinking from the sippy cup of madness for some time. It has been my experience that once someone has started drinking from the sippy cup, they do not stop and there is typically no turning back. In other words, do not expect that working for this type of manager is going to get better for you…it won’t. These types of individuals have reached a euphoric level of power and ego-mania that is too seductive to turn away from. It is best to accept this fact and either cope, or move on.

The good news is that, fortunately, most managers that fall into the “bad manager” category are there because they haven’t been given the proper tools and training to do their job. They are often poor at communicating, delegating and/or managing performance; however, these are all things that are fixable. The bad news, as mentioned before, is that once a person has begun drinking from the sippy cup, it is too late.

So, please take heed of the list above and share it with others as your (mental) safety and those of your co-workers may depend on recognizing the warning signs. I would also like to know what other behaviours you have seen that may cause you to think that someone has been drinking from the sippy cup of madness? As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Gordan/Flickr.com


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