“Don’t complain…”

Recently, one of my managers told his teams to “stop complaining and being negative” because we keep trying to tell him about problems that we cannot fix ourselves. He has hired a team of skilled, experienced technical people, who cannot do their jobs efficiently because of poor tools, documentation and processes.

This manager does not like it when someone tells him about a problem. If you tell this manager about a problem, they don’t actually listen to hear what the problem is: they decide that you are the problem because you have a negative attitude.

As a result of this manager telling his department to “stop complaining” he is now learning an interesting lesson in “Malicious Compliance” and “Employee Silence”. Every time he asks someone to do something that will cause unintended consequences, the team quietly smirks and does exactly as they are told. The damage being done by creating unnecessary Technical Debt and Single Points of Failure will impact customers and shareholders alike for years to come. Staff turnover has also increased. Some new hires are leaving within months of joining, and management is writing this off as “they were a bad cultural fit”. It never occurs to them that the “culture” is bad and good employees don’t want to fit.

Saving money in the short term by promoting ambitious staff to management, without training them with necessary soft-skills is a way to destroy the value of your company.

As always, short-term decisions can destroy long-term value.

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