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Whatsthepoint wrote

Hierachy is not about domination. It really isn't.

I am aware that you and many others have experienced managers and directors for whom it really is exactly about that, but those ego driven lemons are not a true example of what it's about. Often abusing their power or having some kind of ego trip.

The truth is (and I say this from direct experience) when you are the manager, and even more so when you are the director. If you are doing your job right, your ego comes flat last. What you want, and what makes you happy, is less than secondary to what your staff want, and what keeps them happy.

When there is trust both ways, honesty and equality this is the best way. And I'm going to give you some examples. One real world, from my own experience. One hypothetical, to illustrate a point.

Real world:

In one of my first managerial roles, I was for all intents and purposes the head of department, with 8/9 permanent office staff. The work was fairly mundane and dull, and of the kind that generally speaking, there was a specific body of work that needed to be completed every month.

Part of my role was to dole out the work everyday. My role was also to monitor how much work people were actually doing, to occasionally double check the work, admin shit, and motivation.

I got to know everyone in my dept. their personality (helped by the nepotism of hiring friends or friends of friends where possible) and part of my job, was to understand their ebb and flow.

Sometimes, looking at the numbers, I would see that a person is working at a really low rate, this is generally a sign that something is up, something is getting them down. So I would talk to them, find out what was up and try and help if I could, or point them in a positive direction. Sometimes all required was a little chat, being silly in the metting room and letting them take it easy for the afternoon (which usually involved me taking up the slack, and doing some of their work)

I also got to know the general ebb and flow of the energy levels of the people in my dept. And would dole out the work using this information. 'so and so' is bouncing off the walls with energy today, he can have a bit more work, meanwhile 'xyz' who was going at it last week is starting to feel a bit burnt out, she can have less work to do.

And you could argue, that with a morning meeting, the dept. could come to all of these conclusions themselves. I would argue that it wouldn't go quite as smoothly, but will agree that such a case could easily be mooted and would contain some valid points.

However. There were times when people had things going on in thier life. Things they wouldn't be comfortable bringing up in a public meeting. They would let me know, and without giving reasons, I would shift 90% of thier work onto others. I would manage the situation. It's also worth noting that some personalities are more shy, these people in a free-for all situation would struggle. There are quite a few people who dont want the extra 'mental load' and just want to get on with the work.

The people knew and understood this, they knew and trusted that there were valid reasons behind my decisions and that I would always do my best to keep things equal in the end. They didn't have to worry about the big deadlines, or how happy the big moody clients were, or what the overall strategy for the department was. And believe me, they didn't care, coming to the consensus that the big stuff meetings could be better spent as Yoga and talking shit meetings. They wanted to come to work, do work, feel useful, and leave the office behind when they left for the pub at the end of the day.

My fate was not so easy. I couldn't just leave the office at the office. I had a whole bunch of crap I had to keep on my mind. In many ways it was a pyramid, with me on the pointy end because I was the one in charge, but that pyramid was pointing down. They came first, I came 2nd. That was the true hierachy, and me being in the position where I would tell people what to do, didn't change that.

hypothetical example:

I've talked about how hierachy of information, and thus leadership is useful in complex systems, but as an example, im going to create a fairly simple one.

99 plots of land, each farmer responsible for 3, 5 different crops all wanting differnt soil, 1 soil testing scientist.

We are going to focus on the soil scientist. He likes being in nature, pottering about in the soil, riding his bicycle, and running the tests in the lab. He can test 2 fields per day.

Perhaps at first, it's easy to say, the soil scientist needs no boss, he can just go where he pleases, as long as he works it's fine. But actually when you think about it, by giving the scientist this "freedom" to just pick his own work, you are actually giving him more work.

He now needs to be aware of the farmers schedules, which farmer is going to farm which land, what the seed levels are for each crop, their delivery time scales, etc etc.

This is giving him extra mental load. He now has to start each day staring at several spreadsheets, and making sure they are up to date, calling people on the phone, sending e-mails, chasing things up.

Add an administrator, who tells him "go test field x and y today", and all he has to worry about, is being the best soil scientist he can.

The administrator isn't above him, just because he is telling him what to do, he is helping the scientist do his job.

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dele_ted wrote (edited )

It's great that you can handle being in a position of power, but you're one in a thousand. It's also worth considering that you might be in a position of power, but you're very, very far away from the top of the pyramid, where the bankers and deep state officials reside.

Hierarchy is not abusive or dominating in itself, but it leaves the possibility wide open, the only thing stopping abuse being ethics, which a lot of people have managed to completely subdue (bringing me to another issue: those without ethics are those that do best in a capitalist system, and are more likely to gain power - but that's off topic).

The only complete solution to this is to abandon hierarchy. Remember, not all people are as ethical as you are, and those in the top sure aren't (they wouldn't have gotten there if they were, since "winning" in a capitalist society means exploiting and cheating as much as possible). This is the reason why the system is broken: a handful of folks are in control of almost fucking everything on this earth, and will do whatever it takes to gain control of what's left. They are detached from society and manage to live without morals, and don't see the consequences of their actions as directly as you do.

edit: To clarify, the big issue here isn't the asshole managers or bosses. It's those at the top of the hierarchy. And as long as there is hierarchy, there will be some people at the top, and they will be detached and apathic, because that is what gets them there. In our situation, in our capitalist world, the difference between the top 0.1% and the bottom 99.9% is significant, which is the inevitable long-term results of hierarchy (and it's only getting worse: in 2017, the top 1% took 82% of all new wealth, while the bottom half got absolutely nothing. Source).