Three signs that middle management in your company is in the service of The (Lovecraftian) Old Ones

[Edit: For those who aren’t aware, the title refers to the Lovecraftian “Great Old Ones”, not to older human beings.  Unless they’re Nylarlathotep in disguise. ]

Here are three quick signs that your company’s leadership is not really… getting it.

(These are inspired by things that I’ve been told; if they match your company, I probably didn’t actually hear about your company.  Unless I did.)

You know there is a manager whose meeting agenda looks like this.


There’s a longstanding way to get a kid to agree with you. Offer them only two (or three) choices that you approve of so they feel like they made a choice.  It is especially insulting when you’re suckered by an email claiming that you get to have a say.

Greetings fellow workers!  We want you to feel engaged with us, so we’re turning to you to make an important decision for our new building.  Would you like for it to be BLUE GREEN, GREEN BLUE, or BLUE AND GREEN?

Don’t you feel engaged, fellow workers?   Take our follow up survey to let us know how engaged you are!


After teaching research methods and how to make a good survey, bad surveys cause my stomach to twist and churn in ways usually reserved for bad cases of the flu.  A survey not too unlike this (sent to me by a worker who wants to remain anonymous); my stomach did, in fact, churn.

We are sensitive to the employee feedback that you do not feel like you’re part of the decision making process.  Please take this follow-up survey to help us assess the problem:

Management is: 
o Awesome
o Pretty Great
o Super

Management has improved in:
o Most areas
o A lot of areas
o Areas that I care about

Thank you for taking our follow up survey.


There are some statements that, when strung together, create a vortex, a rip, a tear in space-time itself.  Like this one.

After seeing our daily productivity report, it turns out that we were six people short in the department, causing budget problems.  And of those working today, we were also four people over budget.  So we were short six people, and simultaneously four over budget.

The non-Euclidean warping of reality as this statement floated in the space between cubicles remained uncommented upon, with only my eyes as witness.

Ia! Ia! Buzzword Fthagn!  Buzzword Fthagn!