Micromanagement, bad ideas and strange behavior characterize the management in your company? Unfortunately, you are often not alone in this. Often in the course of my consultancy career I have seen managers who almost had a reputation as circus clowns before the workforce. If the name of the manager is mentioned, one only experiences a mischievous smile from the employees. It is sometimes surprising that companies are successful despite these managers.

For this purpose, I had employees tell me in various telephone calls through interviews how such managers are shielded. I would like to show you the shielding of managers in a funny way in the form of a case study and then give you tips for solving the scenario. The following story is of course completely exaggerated and I use typical clichés.

Reading tip: Case study: Scrum in a corporation

A funny story: the top management and the shielding lines

Take a look at the fictitious case study from TechCom AG. TechCom AG consists of three department heads, each with a personal assistant, and three team leaders, who have jointly introduced a new structure. Four agile teams create value for the company and generate money. TechCom AG is very successful in the market. Now look at the picture in peace.

Company with yourself
Fictional and funny case study of a company with bad management

TechCom AG’s problem is that top management is in a constant war against each other. In addition, all three department heads are unfortunately in a severe self-crisis and suffer from narcissism or similar quirks. Each of the department heads has an assistant that they are very happy to have. Department head 1 seems very lonely and has the only friend in the assistant. Department head 2 treats the assistant like a second wife, who also buys gifts for him privately for his wedding day and helps organize his private life. Department head 3 sees the assistant as his best friend and has an affair with the assistant of department head 2.

Reading tip: Dark triad

First line of shielding by the assistant

In short: it is like in a circus and it is along with every labor law and professionalism. Old gray men have women as their assistants, who shield them from the workforce through an anteroom. The department heads are distracted by the assistance and are busy with themselves most of the time anyway. In this way, they cannot cause any damage to the workforce through their unprofessional behavior.

Second line of shielding by the team leader

The team leaders have long pursued the strategy that they simply tell the managers what they want to hear – regardless of whether it is true or not. This creates a second line of shielding. The team leaders organize the teams in an agile manner and deliver high added value. TechCom AG is so successful thanks to its agile teams that they are market leaders and continue to grow by 20% annually.

Shielding the managers is part of the budget

TechCom AG is so successful thanks to the agile teams that the costs for the three managers (each 150,000 euros per year) and the three assistants (each 50,000 euros per year) can be borne. The sad thing is that 450,000 euros per year in salary do not bring any value to the company and even damage it. With a further 150,000 euros in salary per year for assistants, these must be shielded by the company.

Shielding managers as part of the recipe for success

Due to the success and growth, the top managers are not fired and the behavior is tolerated. The managers also manage to hide their behavior very well and to cut a good figure in front of the board of directors. The shielding is part of the team leader’s recipe for success, as the interference of the top managers would probably turn the company into a foundation in 2-3 years. Even small interference by top managers can cause great confusion on some days. The two lines of shielding do not always hold up enough so that the agile teams can usually work undisturbed.

Solutions to this scenario

Unfortunately, one is often very powerless in such a situation. The team leaders acted “sensibly in the unreasonable” and built a protective wall. Of course, the scenario is bad and it can be angry. My recommendation would now be to try to clarify the situation with the top managers. If this is unsuccessful, the team leaders could talk to the board of directors. Especially their cohesion gives a high chance of success in order to transparently represent the success of the company despite the top managers.

If all attempts to clarify the situation have failed and the situation is increasingly stressful for the psyche of team leaders and employees, then you should change areas or companies as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, there is often no other chance before you risk your health. The other option is of course to have a good working life while maintaining the protective wall. Read more about this in my reading tip.

Reading tip: Boss is a narcissist


Of course, this story is very exaggerated and portrayed in a funny way. Unfortunately, this scenario is often a reality in companies in a weakened form. Unfortunately, I experience numerous experts in my office hours on the blog, who tell me that the company works well despite the poor management. From the discussions I was able to construct this exaggerated case study with the successful concept of shielding.

Such top managers are not fired, especially in successful companies. So it is important to deal sensibly with bad managers. One solution to this is for the team leaders to use the solidarity and approach the board together. If this is unsuccessful and the stress hits the psyche, there is no other way than to leave the company.

Bildquelle: Geburtstag Foto erstellt von asier_relampagoestudio - de.freepik.com
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I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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