A Guide to Dysfunctional Management and the Evil Workplace
July 22nd, 2012 by William

Stumpin’ the Dummy

Does your boss stop by your office, or cube, just about the time you’re ready to head out for the day? Does he theatrically look at his watch as he sees you getting ready to leave? Does he then pose a question that, by the fact that he’s the one asking, implies that it must be answered immediately? The trick is to try to get you to stick around for 12+ hours a day, like he does.

More broadly, does your boss practice a bastardized version of “management by walking around,” looking for anybody doing something wrong, or for any fledgling problem that hasn’t yet bubbled up the management chain?  This kind of boss will then use these tidbits of information to test someone’s knowledge of what’s going on and to test whether that person is really in control? The trick is to get them to say; “I didn’t know that,” thus admitting that they’re not in control.

If you’re the target of the above behavior then you’re reluctantly a participant in the game of “Stump the Dummy.” Stump the Dummy is one of the management games of choice prevalent in command and control organizations and the problem with this behavior is that it’s so destructive to the organization.1 Unfortunately, it’s one of the most used management “tools” that contribute to the making of dysfunctional workplaces.

In my book, Puttin’ Cologne on the Rickshaw, I delve deeper into the game of “Stump the Dummy,” a close cousin to “Divide and Conquer,” which is another frequently played game in the modern dysfunctional workplace.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to fight this behavior because once you’ve fallen prey you’ll have a target on your back forever. Really your only course of action starts at the door…when you walk through it for the last time.

1 Constructive “management by walking around” focuses on finding someone doing something “right” so as to praise them on the spot for a job well done.


4 Responses to “Stumpin’ the Dummy”
  1. Anonymous says

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  2. Anonymous says

    Wonderful post, thank you.

  3. Anonymous says

    Blasphemy! LOL Just kidding. Ive study comparable points on other blogs. I’ll take your word by using this. Remain solid! your friend….

  4. Anonymous says

    Incredible! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a entirely different
    subject but iit has pretty much the same layout and design. Great choice of colors!

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