Thursday, September 16, 2010

Everybody is NOT a Manager

You all know I started a new gig about two months ago.  It's not my dream job (no TV involved, I can't take my doggie with me, and the paycheck could stand a couple of more zeros) but it's much more tolerable than my old job which still brings shivers down my spine when I think of it.  But this rant isn't about current gig or really any gig in particular -- just the whole dang manager concept. 

I've been working a long time now -- you wouldn't know it from my bank account (that's a whole separate post) but I've been around a while in the work force.  One of the biggest beefs I have with Corporate America (as it's so warmly referred to by us who are indentured to the structure to eat) is the fact that the only way "up" seems to be to make manager of or senior some-fancy-name-that-means-nothing-to-those-outside-of-the-company.   The problem with that structure is that there are so few companies that actually train those up-and-comers to be really effective and GOOD managers of people.  It doesn't mean they're bad people, they're just horrible managers of people.

Managing people takes an entirely different skill set than what most people learn in school or even learn with experience.  You need a set of "soft skills" that I've not seen many MBA programs focus on.  You need the ability to deal with different people -- cultures, ages, genders, learning styles, and personalities.  The manager needs to be able to deal with all of those differences, yet, somehow or another treat everyone the same from a policies and productivity standpoint.  They need to be cheerleaders, ass-kickers, and still keep their personal biases and opinions out of the decision making as much as possible.  I feel for them.  I recognized a long, long time ago that I would not be an effective manager of people.  It's hard as hell to be a good one and I've yet to work somewhere where the trade-off seemed worth it.  I'm okay with that.   But I digress.

It sucks that the only path to financial and professional growth in many companies requires becoming responsible for the growth and development of a staff.  Especially as many folk are thrust into that role long before they have been trained to be an effective manager.   In my experience, manager has meant "I'm the boss now dammit".   Too many times they don't lead a group as much as they babysit (i.e. make sure the staff follows antiquated company rules) or break their necks implementing an idea of some fool that has the ear of the CEO or someone in a high enough position to make it happen.  

I wish corporations could either a) find a way to make a growth and development path for good employees that don't necessarily lead to managing a group of people or b) train the managers to be good leaders.  I think b would be easier but that's just me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tasia, Tasia, Tasia

I don't usually spend too much energy thinking about pop culture stars.  Usually, they're just a source of entertainment for me as I merrily go along my way and try to maintain.  This Fantasia story has got me riled up though so I need to get it off my chest. 

Let me say, I've always had a special fondness for Fantasia from her Idol days.  Call it a kindred spirit kind of thing, but I always felt she had some issues rooting from childhood that she had to deal with.  Yes, she was extremely talented and I know she came from a family of performers, but that didn't mean something wasn't quite right.  I'm not sure if the experts have ever confirmed it, but I honestly feel like those of us from dysfunctional homes can recognize each other.  It wasn't just because she was a teenager mother either.  I can't explain it but I know it when I see it.   My feeling was verified as she revealed more and more about her self like her inability to read.  The drama of her father suing her after her book was published and her reality show on VH1 confirmed it. 

When her affair with Mr. Married broke in the news, I was extremely disappointed, but I didn't believe for one minute that she deliberately went after a married man.  As further details broke about that story, I felt like she was the victim of some very smooth talk by a man that probably recognized her vulnerability and swooped in.   With young women from dysfunctional homes, I feel like no matter how strong and accomplished we appear on the outside, there's a hunger for real love inside that some men just pick up on.  Yep, that's happened to Gamma, too, but that's another story. 

When initial word of her suicide attempt broke, I feel like people really had sympathy for her -- until they found out she overdosed on asprin.   Seriously?  Asprin?  Doubt starting going around the blogosphere that this was possibly a PR stunt.  It didn't help that soon after she left the hospital, she was seen filming a segment for her reality show with Mr. Married.  BAD MOVE ALL AROUND.   

The straw that really broke my back was her latest theory that she was treated so harshly by the media and fans because of her dark skin and "traditional" African-American appearance.   STOP IT RIGHT NOW.  Fantasia's story was handled differently than the Alicia keys (and other women-gone-wrong stories) because she lacked a proper staff to "handle" her business.  Oh I'm not saying those issues don't exist -- as a dark skinned, "traditional" looking black woman myself, I've experienced it first hand.  But in my humble opinion, this was a case of a little girl running with with the big dogs and not having the proper "equipment" to hang. 

When you reach the level of success that Fantasia has, she really needs four key QUALIFIED people around her to help her maneuver the entertainment jungle.  A PR Rep, a Manager, an Accountant, and an Assistant.   That's just my opinion as I've never worked in the business nor do I pretend to understand it.  I equate it with me winning the lottery -- there is no one in my immediate circle I would put in charge of helping me manage that money -- NO ONE.  I know I'm not qualified and as much as I love and trust certain friends and relatives, they aren't qualified either.  The first thing I'm going to do is ask Suze Ormann for some recommendations -- but that's just me.  By what I've been able to deduce, Fantasia hasn't had any of those people.  Uncle John (or whoever her current manager is),  Mama, and Lord knows that brother of hers Teeny do not count ... in any shape way or form. 

Half of the attention this story has gotten in mainstream media is directly attributed to her not having the proper people around her.  Some people say that  Alicia Keys came out of her affair unscathed but I'm going to bet part of my future lottery winnings that Alicia's people kept that drama in check as much as possible. 

I want Fantasia to hush up now and stay out of the press.  I want her to get a Life Coach, some intense counseling to deal with that childhood dysfunction and a proper staff!   Fantasia is a young woman and has plenty of opportunity to put a lot of this behind her and become the phenomenal woman that God means for her to be.  Unlike a lot of us, Fantasia, unfortunately, is not going to be able to do her work in private.  For her sake, and her daughter's sake, I hope she stops giving interviews for a while and starts working with some professionals. 

Whew!  I feel better now.