Management Challenges and Symptoms
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Janice Langan-Fox, Cary L. Cooper and Richard J. Klimoski
I once interviewed a man called ‘Tony’ about how he did his job. He worked in a national communications organization and had recently taken up a position as a liaison oﬃcer after his previous job as a truck driver. The job required him to liaise between the shopﬂoor, of which he was a member, and management. His story (later indirectly corroborated by executives) told of secret meetings with management, staged performances at union meetings (throwing chairs etc.), and other extraordinary actions and hidden communications with either the manager or union leaders. His phone bill, which covered long late-night conversations with troubled shopﬂoor workers about family or work, was astronomical. Tony controlled and managed everything. However, he was paid only for his shopﬂoor liaison oﬃcer job despite having informal responsibility for the eﬃcient running of his unit, the pastoral care of the workers, and the propping up of management. Tony contrived to appear on the side of the union and the shopﬂoor, and although never appearing to support management (at meetings, he made the manager the butt of jokes), secretly colluded with management in order to bring about productive organizational outcomes. Both sides knew he was a power broker, but it was never spoken about. Tony was an altruist at heart. He saw that someone had to step in and take charge of things and, with little education (he hadn’t even ﬁnished high school) and no management experience, he did a terriﬁc job....