Bureaucracy Indicator – Hallway Talk

Bureaucracy Indicator – Just Listen to the Hallway Talk…

You know the truth, you just have to allow yourself to see it… and hear it. I have an experiment that will help set your mind a little more free. Your employer does not care about you.

In every bureaucracy there are two types of people. The first group is the people that are dedicated to the goals and the mission of the organization. The second group is dedicated to the organization itself. In every case while the first group is busy focusing on and achieving the goals of the organization the second group will be busy getting promoted and writing the rules and procedures for the first group. – A rephrasing of Pournell’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy.


This will work both ways for a higher ranking individual in a low ranking setting, or for a low ranking individual in a high ranking setting. But let’s focus on the latter.

The next time you are in the hallways of middle management, or maybe you are in the building and the closest bathroom to you is “their” bathroom, the clean one, the one that has a janitor provided, just keep your ears open and think to yourself “be invisible”.

You may find that it is likely the case that the standard boilerplate discussion between high ranking individuals in your organization has NOTHING to do with how to help the lower ranking individuals (the ones busy doing the mission) actually accomplish their tasks any better.

Things I often here the most when middle and upper management are secure in their element, in their a/c, in their swivel chairs, working out at the gym while they’re supposed to be on duty, etc. are:

  • “Oh, I’ve got that big meeting with my retirement fund manager, gotta get that last few more percentages on my final pay since I retire in a few years” (I hear this one the most)
  • “Who’s in charge of cleaning this place! Oh my god, these people are so messy” (This one and ones similar come up quite a bit too)
  • “My work vehicle needs a tune up.”
  • “Sure is hot out today!”
  • “I’ve got SO many meetings to go to today”

You get the picture… or at least, you will. Hopefully it’s not a stretch to imagine (or to research) that the people in charge of you, are just people. They have their OWN lives and their OWN careers to worry about. And while they may “THINK” that they care about you, their actions more often than not will show the opposite.

More on this in the future, this was just a short essay today. Do yourself a favor if you are even slightly interested in becoming more enlightened about the study of people and the study of bureaucracies… Keep your eyes and ears open and look for what the incentives are for management to go the extra mile to look out for their people.


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