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  • Shelving

    So I am familiar with a situation and I figured I parse through it in case others have seen it....

    It involves a grossly unfit manager, the type who sows chaos and destroys everything he touches. Subordinates are treated like cowsh*t under his shoe. Important partnerships and inter-agency relationships are burned to the ground. Upper management is aware there are issues, but is wholly indifferent. In fact, at first upper management goes out of the way to defend the manager, and tells complaining subordinates 1) as far as they are concerned, psycho manager is a hard charger who demands accountability, and 2) you better not file a formal complaint because doing so could impact your career (this veiled threat was said in all earnest, as in 'listen, I'm looking out for your interests here').

    Weeks become months become a couple of years. Some rank and file leave for new jobs because of the toxicity. Others do exactly what they were advised to not do and file formal complaints. Because upper management is compromised and HR is mostly a joke, eventually the nuclear button get pushed: lawsuits get filed.

    That process plays out and the facts of the situation are laid out on the table. An arbitrator rules in favor of the aggrieved and they are 'made whole' with settlements ranging from $30K to $100K (taxpayer money, of course). The unfit manager is given a 3R letter (resign, retire, or re-assign) but no adverse personnel action is taken.

    Unfit manager transfers to another district. Weeks become months become years and what occurred previously happens again. Careers end, complaints are filed, and another round of lawsuits and windfall settlements.

    The agency now recognizes they have a serious problem on their hands, but fecklessness prevails once again and no adverse action occurs. But upper management has a solution: shelving.

    The unfit manager is moved to a broom closet. His job is to report everyday but not talk to anyone or do anything other than sit a desk until retirement eligibility in three years.

    So for three years, the manager keeps his pay grade and has no responsibilities, other than consuming oxygen and not creating any new problems. In total, due to employee attrition, forced inefficiency, legal costs and settlements, the cost to the agency is in the hundreds of thousands. Maybe even past the million dollar mark. Upper management, tasked with oversight and operational integrity, seem to care not about the costs, the damage to morale, the damage to agency reputation, the damage to mission effectiveness. Only that the power structure is kept intact.


    My question: is this an isolated set of circumstances or is 'shelving' of bad managers ubiquitous to LE?

    For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

    -HL Mencken

  • #2
    Never see it happen myself, but I've spent my entire career in smaller departments...maybe it's more common in large organizations where they have the room to hide someone away in a dark corner. I can think of some situations where your scenario would be a welcome relief just so certain individuals were no longer in positions to spread their disease...
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

    Comment


    • #3
      I've seen it more than once. I call it "Captain in charge of paperclips ".

      Comment


      • #4
        Happenes
        all the time in the Dept of Corrections.
        Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

        My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

        Comment


        • #5
          In an agency I used to work for, that would be Lt. Brain Dead, and sadly, I must bear some (but not all) of the responsibility for his existence.

          Way back when I was a sergeant, this guy worked for me as a rookie officer. He had been rejected on probation from another state agency yet somehow we hired him. Everything this guy touched turned to s**t. What made matters worse was that he gave of himself 300%, so he created a 300% pile of s**t. I should have rejected him on probation, however, the attitude of the department at the time was no one fails probation, so I reluctantly passed him. That was one of the biggest mistakes of my career. I should have fought to get rid of him back then.

          Eventually, he had enough time on to take the Sergeant's test. He passed, but scored at the very bottom. The problem here was that he was worked in one of the most undesirable areas of the state. No one was willing to accept a promotion and transfer here. So, because everyone above waived to promotion into his part of the state, he made Sergeant immediately.

          He was a frikken disaster. He made one bonehead mistake after another. Nothing he did violated the rules and regulations or the law. He just lacked good judgement and made so many boneheaded mistakes as to be a major embarasment to the department. It got to be that they wound of transferring him from office to office as a combination of hiding him from public view and trying to bury him so he couldn't do more damage. One lieutenant told him to his face that we was "not too tightly wrapped."

          Eventually, he put enough time in to qualify for the lieutenant's exam and once more history repeated itself. He scored at the bottom of the list, but because this was an undesirable part of the state, no one wanted to accept a promotion here and he immediately became the chosen one by default, moving up in rank to lieutenant.

          Once more his stupidity set such new records that they continued transferring him from office to office, trying to minimize his damage and find a place to squirrel him away. Still not being able to properly assess his situation, he took these reassignments to mean the department viewed him as "the troubleshooter" who was being sent where needed to fix problems. Sadly, he never comprehended that he was the problem himself. In the meantime, the troops began calling him Lt. Brain Dead. At some point he found out about his nickname and upset, he complained to the Captain that he was being referred to as Lt. Dead Brain. Apparently he couldn't even get the name straight.

          Eventually, he suffered a heart attack and much to the relief of everyone, he took a disability retirement.

          If only I had rejected him on probation when I had the chance. (sigh)


          Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

          Comment


          • #6
            The Peter Principle in operation! I hope I'm not the only guy who remembers that book, must be about 50 years ago now.

            Basic premise of the Peter Principle is that in any organization people tend to be promoted to their levels of incompetency or inefficiency. The book also discusses the Lateral Arabesque, a management technique employed when a manager displays incompetence in a position, just move that person to another management position.

            Of course, if the top bosses ever confronted the actual problem that would require admitting that they made a mistake promoting the problem child in the first place. The Lateral Arabesque allows the bosses to "handle the problem" without acknowledging responsibility for the problem.

            Comment


            • #7
              I was barely 6 months in to my career before I was involved in a similar situation which resulted in my FTO/Sgt 'resigning in lieu of termination'. I am wondering what the next 19-24 years will look like.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Saluki89 View Post
                I was barely 6 months in to my career before I was involved in a similar situation which resulted in my FTO/Sgt 'resigning in lieu of termination'. I am wondering what the next 19-24 years will look like.

                Ya know, when I look back on my 27 year run, I knew certain things going in. Like the job was dangerous, and that it required dedication, and bad people do bad things.

                What caught me totally off guard were the institutional dynamics, like how some people get crapped on because someone has to get crapped on... or how management will lie to your face... or how they only go after low hanging fruit. I totally lost faith at one point in leadership's ability to do anything, other than protect leadership at all cost.

                It was that stuff which almost had me hand in my gear and go drive a Budweiser truck....

                For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

                -HL Mencken

                Comment


                • Saluki89
                  Saluki89 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I should have listened when my LE buddies told me to be a firefighter instead lol

              • #9
                Originally posted by L-1 View Post
                In an agency I used to work for, that would be Lt. Brain Dead, and sadly, I must bear some (but not all) of the responsibility for his existence.

                Way back when I was a sergeant, this guy worked for me as a rookie officer. He had been rejected on probation from another state agency yet somehow we hired him. Everything this guy touched turned to s**t. What made matters worse was that he gave of himself 300%, so he created a 300% pile of s**t. I should have rejected him on probation, however, the attitude of the department at the time was no one fails probation, so I reluctantly passed him. That was one of the biggest mistakes of my career. I should have fought to get rid of him back then.

                Eventually, he had enough time on to take the Sergeant's test. He passed, but scored at the very bottom. The problem here was that he was worked in one of the most undesirable areas of the state. No one was willing to accept a promotion and transfer here. So, because everyone above waived to promotion into his part of the state, he made Sergeant immediately.

                He was a frikken disaster. He made one bonehead mistake after another. Nothing he did violated the rules and regulations or the law. He just lacked good judgement and made so many boneheaded mistakes as to be a major embarasment to the department. It got to be that they wound of transferring him from office to office as a combination of hiding him from public view and trying to bury him so he couldn't do more damage. One lieutenant told him to his face that we was "not too tightly wrapped."

                Eventually, he put enough time in to qualify for the lieutenant's exam and once more history repeated itself. He scored at the bottom of the list, but because this was an undesirable part of the state, no one wanted to accept a promotion here and he immediately became the chosen one by default, moving up in rank to lieutenant.

                Once more his stupidity set such new records that they continued transferring him from office to office, trying to minimize his damage and find a place to squirrel him away. Still not being able to properly assess his situation, he took these reassignments to mean the department viewed him as "the troubleshooter" who was being sent where needed to fix problems. Sadly, he never comprehended that he was the problem himself. In the meantime, the troops began calling him Lt. Brain Dead. At some point he found out about his nickname and upset, he complained to the Captain that he was being referred to as Lt. Dead Brain. Apparently he couldn't even get the name straight.

                Eventually, he suffered a heart attack and much to the relief of everyone, he took a disability retirement.

                If only I had rejected him on probation when I had the chance. (sigh)

                I worked for that guy!

                There is no way to quantify the damage done by such a person. Internal Affairs complaints, civil lawsuits, union grievances, eternal "blue flu", and line-level employees that refuse to do anything more than the bare minimum when working for Lt. D. Bag.

                We gave him his own call sign- One Delta Ten Tango (1D10T).

                Comment


                • #10
                  I worked for a department for a little while that was notorious for promoting the problem child. We had an officer who drove all the sergeants nuts, but they kept it on the down low from admin. This guy was the boss in his own mind and caused all shorts of pain and discontent. Co-workers could not stand working with him either.

                  The sergeants also hated the Lieutenant who ran the detective unit (there was no sgt. working for the unit, just the Lt.). The Lt. was hated because he was the previous problem child, but was promoted to Lt. and transferred to detectives so he was more out of sight out of mind.

                  So with the current problem child the sergeants coaxed and encouraged him to apply for detectives. The sergeants gave the Det. Lt. a glowing review of him and so he was selected by admin to be a detective. While in detectives he immediately started to boss all the other senior detectives around and was just "That Guy." All the detectives could not stand him, but he got along really well with the Det. Lt., go figure. He got away with everything due to that. Soon the entire detective unit jumped ship and went back to patrol/retired and lateralled out. The patrol guys all refused to put in for it, knowing they would have to work for/with the problem child and the problem Lt. Soon thereafter, the problem child applied to Sgt. and got selected because the Det. Lt. had all the sway in the department. After being promoted he immediately began driving all the officers on his shift nuts, and started dictating what all the sergeants should be doing.

                  The officers figured out what shift the guy liked so of course no one would put in for that shift during shift assignment selection. The poor newbies all got stuck on his shift. Suddenly we started seeing newly hired officers lateralling out as soon as they got their basic POST cert. We could not keep good new hires. So admin decided to promote the problem sgt. to Lt. after the problem Det. Lt. retired. They then transferred him to detectives to be the new Det. Lt. and the cycle continued.

                  Crazy place, did not make sense.

                  Comment

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