I received this email from an individual (who has asked to remain anonymous):
"I would like to share a recent experience of rankism I had when working on a new contract for a major UK utility company.
"I was at a handover meeting with a colleague from whom I was to take over the implementation of a project. I was expressing some concern at the timescale/resources which our boss had set and asking advice on how my colleague had proposed to complete the work. "Oh" she said "don't you do the work, get your team to do it for you, that's what I always do.
"The team in question consisted of a layer of first-line managers and clerical staff; I had noticed that they were miserable, overworked and very negative about the Company. When I thought about this advice in the context of the organisation I had observed over the short time I had been there, I realised that this was howthey probably operated right down the chain of command....The Chief Exec had probably told the Director to sort out such and such and the Director (notwanting to do the work herself) told the Head of Function to do it. The Head of Function didn't want to do any real work herself but told theoriginal manager (my colleague) to do it, which she had been doing until I came along, using the same management principle ie pushing it down!
"So I wonder how the first line supervisors had been accomplishing their workload? Doesn't take much guessing does it?
"This particular organisation had an appalling record of performance andcustomer service, but thought they were enlightened in their management mission to sort out a recalcitrant workforce - maybe these indicators were nothing to do with the practice I had witnessed... but somehow I suspect they were. The post-script to this story was that none of the executives involved were old farts - all were under 45, and the function involved was...Organisational Development!"
(email me your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org)