Unskilled Supervision


My daughter and her partner have just bought their first home: celebrations all round. Previously it was a let property and so plenty of work needs to be done to bring the interior up to decent standards. I was volunteered to help supervise the men who were coming in to replaster the walls in the hall by the front door. They were due to arrive at 10am so I arrived with twenty minutes to spare and, sure enough, they finally turned up at quarter to eleven: these things happen. As yet there is no kettle or supplies in the place so I couldn’t offer them or me a cup of tea.  I sat down while they started on their work. The heart of the matter is I know nothing about plastering so my “supervision” was of a very poor technical quality. Lets hope they didn’t notice.

All to often people find themselves working for bosses with good skills in corporate diplomacy and self promotion but technically not as gifted as the people whom they manage. People further up the management line may not be aware of this, so clever are they at placing themselves between the beam of praise or recognition and those who actually do the work. These poor souls labour on in semi darkness while their smoother operating bosses do all they can to keep the skills of their subordinates a well hidden secret. Any results of their work have to be posted through their boss, who is careful to ensure that any talents they have remain hidden from those who might advance their careers.

When I started work I believed that if you worked hard and did a good job success was bound to follow: this can happen. It is also  true that many who do great work but lack the awareness and networking abilities of their colleagues find themselves lost in some backwater while that irritating man who worked with them seems to propel himself up the ladder of success on the basis of getting to know the right people and skillful self promotion.

We all long for that world were ability is recognised and rewarded but, not infrequently, that only happens when the person in question leaves or dies. In the highly complex and fragmented world we now populate it takes more than skill to get ahead. I often hope that somehow those people who work quietly and unrecognised get their reward in some other way, far from the braying triumph of the men who have profited so well from their abilities.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in creative writing, employment, Life, life2, skils, Talent and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Unskilled Supervision

  1. backonmyown says:

    “the braying triumph of the men who have profited” presented me with a great visual image: a man body with the head of an ass hee hawing as if he has a right to claim the success of another. Good post.

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  2. nelle says:

    It does work that way on occasion; we’ve all bear witness to such workplace shenanigans. I’ve been fortunate to work for some wonderful people, fortunate to own my own business (until I tore it asunder when I melted down.) In my last position, not at all interested in management, a path I could have easily walked, it was quite freeing. I loved my work, loved my supervisors, and often assisted them based on what is in my knowledge and experience repertoire. Of the people I’ve worked for in this life, all stood ready to see full credit where it was deserved, and that is a blessing.

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  3. Caroline says:

    I believe it’s my job as a manager to ensure that all my staffs’ efforts are recognised and when possible rewarded. That’s what I’m there for!

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  4. So often in an organization, a person will rise to the level of her/his incompetence (aka, the Peter Principle). Then there are those who work diligently and go unnoticed for the work they do so well. One has to wonder why. Sometimes it’s because they don’t crave the recognition. But more often, I think, it’s because they are intentionally overlooked (kind of an oxymoron).

    On many ocassions, I praise service providers and, whenever possible, let their suprevisors know what a great job their employee just did. People hear way too many things they do wrong in this world and not nearly enough positive things.

    By the way, congrats to your daughter on her new home and good for you for steping up to help in any way you could!

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  5. Judith says:

    Great news for your daughter and her partner. I hope they have many happy years whether in that property or another.
    And the comment about people rising to the level of their incompetence is so true and we see it often.
    However, as for the supervision thing. One doesn’t have to know how to plaster one just has to be aware of how the result should be. When I had my property management business I had reliable tradesmen to do the things I couldn’t. 🙂

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    • Thats a different thing of course. You were the boss. You were not trying to impress the boss with the results of someone elses expertise. What you describe is quite normal and a completly different situation

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  6. Beth says:

    Were you “volunteered” or “voluntold”? 🙂

    Many bosses forget that the better their staff looks, the better *they* look. As such, your employees should be as happy and productive as possible. You honor their achievements, coach toward improvement, and motivate them as much as possible. Oh, and give them the ability to do their job and then get outta their way! Now if we could just get the rest of the bosses on board…

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  7. Aurora says:

    Such a good and timeless piece. Well written. Appreciation is such a small thing to express and such a great thing to feel. If only more believed as you do. Thank you for this great read.

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  8. ElizOF says:

    Congratulations to your daughter and partner! As for the self-promoters, I find the type extremely annoying because they spend more time braying about their successes, they actually do less work and more schmoozing…
    Like you, I wish we lived in a world were people get rewarded for their effort in the workplace not just by how loudly they advertise themselves. Great post Peter…I’m finally catching up on everyone’s blog! 🙂

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