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Submitted by rdgeek on


In the latest Things I Think I Think there was a section on joking as a manager and a few quick pointers. I'm really excited to hear this will be an upcoming cast because I feel this is an area where a lot of managers fail stupendously.

From my delta file:
I once had a manager tell the team in a meeting that if any one of them were in a car accident on the side of the road, he wouldn't pull over to help.
Never joke about firing people, ever. It is always not funny.
Also, never joke about raises, or "payoffs" for favors, etc. It only causes people to think that bonuses are arbitrary, and makes them suspicious of their co-workers.
It may be ok to joke about how slow things can be or how you are personally "too old" or things of that nature, but don't do it too often.

Remember: just because people are laughing doesn't mean it's funny.

And, perhaps it goes without saying, but if you call your directs stupid, they may just believe you.

Smacquarrie's picture

This is the main reason that I need to get my license back for this awesome company.
I cant believe that anyone would ever think that these items were joke worthy.

mike_bruns_99's picture
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Never joke about someone getting "Hit by a bus".  I used to use the phrase all the time in succession planning and disaster-recovery situations.  In a big meeting, I asked: "What will we do if Joe gets hit by a bus?"

You can guess what happened. Joe was OK, but I visited him in the hospital.

I use the phrase "What will we do if Joe wins the lottery?" now.

garyslinger's picture
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You shouldn't joke about it, but it's a perfectly valid risk-assessment question. Similarly, I worked in an office that was directly under the flight path of Gatwick Airport, and I was working in DR/BCP just before 9/11. You can see where this is going...

mickmgrtools's picture

I agree that you have to take care about "joking" or other statements depending on the culture.  When explaining to some junior team members why they need to document stuff and keep others up to speed on what they are doing, I said something like "what if you get hit by a bus" - this caused a lot of distress to the very superstitous person who explained in his culture they believe that statements like this can cause the event to happen.  I now use statements like "what if you win the lottery?"