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OrdinaryTimes 1.16-ManageMental

About a hundred years ago, American society went certifiably crazy: management crazy. Before then, individuals, often collaborating with others, somehow directed their own affairs. After, people started believing things would just work better if a manager was involved. Now, we routinely speak of mis-management as if it was some kind of disease, certain to create illness and perhaps death. And when some endeavor fails, we presume it was first a failure of management rather than of execution.

Smear some of that mysterious goo, management, onto anything, and it’ll magically just work better. Efficiency will increase and waste will plummet, customer satisfaction should soar and time-to-market could be cut in half. So many marbles in our mouths, and not one of us like being managed. Most of us prefer not to be the manager, either, since that job seems the least satisfying of almost all the other possibilities.

I was managed today, then spent a few hours recovering from the experience. The property manager sent an email saying that the owner wanted some pictures of the landscaping and he would be by. He showed up a few minutes later and I escorted him around the yard, explaining why my attempts to grow grass on the shady clay middle yard through the monsoon season had failed and pointing out the beds I’d dug out and reconditioned, pulling the odd weed as we walked. “This place looks great,” he exclaimed!

”The neighbors say it looks a lot better than when the owners lived here.”

As he was leaving, I asked him what this visit was about. He said that the owner had gotten a report that the yards were overgrown with ivy, which they were when we’d first moved in. I’d pruned all that back last January. He pointed to the Virginia Creeper and other vines crawling up the side of the house. “I thought those were ornamentals,” I reflected. “She’d told me they didn’t do anything to the front yard, but I cleaned it out anyway.”

We pulled down some of the apparently offending vines and the property manager turned to go. “Just tell me what you’d like done with the yard and I’ll see that it gets done,” I invited, feeling more than a little blind-sided. He promised that he would convey the message to the owner.

The city requires that all rentals have a property manager to, I guess, manage. My experience with this property manager has been that he stands between the kind of relationship I’d prefer to have with the owner. He transforms relationship into transaction, which might dramatically improve the efficiency of something while thoroughly undermining what we might be up to here.

If you have a comment or concern, do not attempt to manage or nudge me or entrap me with photos taken under some pretext. Just let me know. I can handle adult relationships without any referee. And this might be my chief complaint about management, about managing. It infantilizes everyone involved, or subtly tries to, by anchoring a hierarchy around what could, and really should be peer-to-peer interaction.

I felt like an errant schoolboy after the manager left. Yea, I should grow tougher hide. I had nothing to hide and my performance was not found wanting, but just imagine how motivated I feel now, knowing that the owner’s manager might stop by at any time to assess my performance. Just imagine.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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