Children in your Data Center, Spot the TOT

MSNBC republished a BusinessWeek article that brings up a challenge almost all of us have run into.

How to parent your terrible toddler of a boss

Five signs you have a Terrible Office Tyrant and ways to manage up

By Lynn Taylor

updated 4:47 a.m. PT, Fri., Aug 28, 2009

If you've been hitting the snooze button lately on weekday mornings instead of hitting the shower — or find yourself taking the long way around to avoid passing by the corner office, you may just be working for a TOT, that is, a "Terrible Office Tyrant."

TOTs are bosses who act strikingly similar to children, oftentimes toddlers in their Terrible Twos. Why does this happen? Because we're all human, and behind the professional facade are grown kids who act out and can't moderate their power. Unfortunately, at some point from 9 to 5, they just cannot allow the child within to stay there. So in the workplace, these tykes ruin your day and wreak havoc on office productivity.

And, it is not just you who don’t like the TOTs. CEOs as well see the problems.

CEOs are not particularly fond of TOTs either. Childish managers sap productivity and hurt the bottom line. I advise CEOs to TOT-proof their company by making it safe for success — so that employees can make mistakes, communicate, and innovate. Where TOTs lurk, so does turnover, absenteeism, loss of customers, poor employee recruitment and retention, and profit erosion.

The first step is spot the TOT, and commit to being TOT-free.

The first step is spotting a TOT. At first glance, your boss's childish behaviors can be mistaken for a sporadic outburst. But after a while, you'll observe a pattern. Fortunately, by recognizing the parallel between out-of-control kids and bosses, you'll discover that the same basic techniques often work effectively for both.

Conversely, a firm dedicated to being "TOT-free" is successful, progressive, worth investing in and working for, as evidenced by countless lists of desirable, profitable places to work and most admired companies.

Next is what do you do?  There are five different scenarios –Tantrums, Demanding, Needy, Stubborn, and Distracted. The last one can be the most frustrating.

You steer clear of the boss's door because she requested privacy as she puts the finishing touches on her report. Three hours later you enter her office and not only has she neglected her work, but she is crafting the world's longest paper clip chain. TOTs like this suffer from BADD — Boss Attention Deficit Disorder. They're only interested in what seems important at any given moment in time and have trouble paying attention to you.

The author summarizes

There's a good chance you've encountered more than one TOT in you career. Who knows, maybe you even act like one yourself on occasion. Just remember, to "TOT is human," and anyone can fall prey to it. Everyone can play a role in humanizing the workplace with greater sensitivity to what's really behind that facade.

Can you spot the TOT in your data center project?  I bet you found multiple TOTs, and you sit with your peers wondering why these people can’t act like adults.

The best data centers I’ve seen have commitments to be TOT-free.