Managerial dishonesty

This Mastodon post captures something real about how managers filibuster any really probing questions from their charges with absolute BS:

That’s a really good question. I’m so glad you asked it. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you right now, but I will absolutely get back to you when and if I hear anything. Sorry I don’t have any more information for you. Thanks again for the great question!

I’m reminded of an ancient Tweet, long since deleted, about how the quintessential trait of white collar communication is insincerity. It really is!

Relatedly, it’s this very type of managerial culture that seems to have taken a toll on Google:

But very few Googlers come into work thinking they serve a customer or user. They usually serve some process (“I’m responsible for reviewing privacy design”) or some technology (“I keep the CI/CD system working”). They serve their manager or their VP. They serve other employees. They will even serve some general Google technical or religious beliefs (“I am a code readability expert”, “I maintain the SWE ladder description document”). This is a closed world where almost everyone is working only for other Googlers, and the feedback loop is based on what your colleagues and managers think of your work. Working extra hard or extra smart doesn’t create any fundamental new value in such a world. In fact, in a bizarre way, it is the opposite.

You can’t do great work when managers are dishonest, because they won’t value the honest effort it requires. You’re better off filibustering about how some vaporware project is going to be great someday.


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