Weatherman Syndrome, A Management Disorder

I’m going to make him a cookie he can’t refuse, enter biscotti al cioccolato with espresso, a treat and story with Godfatherly snap out of it, or else advice. 

Weatherman Syndrome, fictional disorder poking fun at an annoying behavior rampant among management of stating the painfully obvious as noteworthy contribution while exonerating themselves from problem resolution. Similar to real Weathermen having no responsibility beyond warnings for impending downpour, their only requirement to look sharp while reporting the forecast, in the same fashion, management loaded with trite instruction, leaves us wondering where to find solutions after wasting countless hours talking in circles. Beam me up, Biscotti! There is no intelligent life form in this meeting.

BREAKING NEWS: Director of Sales implodes in furry after mind-numbing regurgitation of problems with nary a solution in sight.

Weatherman Spotting

Weathermen stay above the fray, never committing to tactics, reporting upon unfortunate circumstances without accountability for results. Further, when pushed for specific solution, appeal for extra study dodges answerability, resulting in confusion and never-ending analysis paralysis. Additionally, Weathermen are experts spouting opinions beyond reproach, handy for one-way conversationalists, their existence seemingly dependent upon power extracted from torture of audiences trapped by protocol.

I’m not a neurologist per se, but after weighty scientific trial (middle management positions) my pseudo-diagnosis concludes the syndrome attacks brain cells responsible for work, leaving self-aggrandizing leadership as well as management proficiency delusions where accountability used to live.

While inexcusable conduct, be advised such syndrome cannot survive without complicity at the highest level of organizations making Weatherman behavior politically challenging. While reiterating the forecast is time-wasting fodder for you, somebody important enjoys weather reports so tread gingerly ninja warriors.

All snark aside, subject matter experts offer value, but when cast in management or leadership roles they confound doers, field-level folks responsible for customer satisfaction and revenue. While manageable during good times, havoc-wrecking debacle ensues during crisis when titles inferring leadership ability can no longer hide behind headlines; business theory and command-and-control leadership tactics fails.

To be sure, every company has a Weatherman, but in extreme cases entire Executive Committees are camera-ready yet clueless regarding their ineffectiveness. Consider this message a test of your own emergency broadcast system.

Solution For C-Suite Level Only

On confronting Weathermen, only the biggest guns get away with pointed sarcasm we dream of dishing. One of the most poignant responses for Weatherman Syndrome I’ve witnessed was from a CEO that would say, thanks, I can read to those daring to parrot what was on a page in front of him. Delivered with deadpan Godfather inflection complete evisceration followed with tell me what you have done to fix the problem. No fake tan, sharp suit or non-regional dialect could save you from accountability but realistically not everyone achieves CEO/Godfather prerogative. Until obtaining otherworldly superpowers or nabbing a C-title, you’ll need an interim plan for Weatherman encounters.

At Your Own Risk Solution

When an obvious issue is stated as illuminating exposé consider saying, yes, we recognize the challenge and the following initiatives are in place to improve performance. Next, communicate tactics with detached sang froid tenor but fiery eyes of Chip, I’m gonna come at cha like a spider monkey because I’m all hopped up on Mountain Dew. Your spider monkey eyes hinting you are none too pleased with the time-wasting rehashing of the problem at hand, at which time a retaliatory demeanor will develop from your Weatherman. Keep your shoulders squared and ask if he has ideas for performance improvements. He’ll quickly dismiss the conversation.

A word of caution, Weathermen dislike interruptions (to the sound of his/her voice) any veering from intended script and tyranny of feigned agreement expected from subjugated citizens, is not advisable. Never heeding this warning myself, I can attest that escalation comes swiftly and the biggest title always enjoys the last laugh.

Another key point, while ineffectiveness is easy to spot in others, let’s do a brief inventory on ourselves ensuring Weatherman behaviors haven’t infected us while we slept through useless it’s raining in your region forecast meetings.

Quick Check-up

• How often do you read reports aloud, reiterating apparent fact? Assume everyone can read and cancel story time.
• How many meetings do you chair? Consider more collaboration by rotating moderator responsibilities. Although challenging to cede podium rights, picturing your audience as captives, (how they feel), should inspire you to let go.
• Which tactics have your blessing or active involvement? Is your marketing plan collecting dust on a shelf?
• Where is blame assigned when goals go unmet? Do you take accountability for misses, wrong hires, incorrect strategy or forever a victim of circumstances?

While you may not be a category five Weatherman yet, there are likely symptoms requiring attention so as not to build any further momentum. In the meantime, try these ideas on for an alternative and more impactful way to manage around Weathermen.

Smarter Solutions

  • Adept managers use resources less practiced leaders overlook. Instead of fighting Weathergal, utilize her expertise, perhaps not initially evident, rather than ignoring her opinions entirely. Make peace by finding value, no matter how difficult, for the benefit of all.
  • Transform passive listening by leading conversations with questions aimed at her know-how, which repositions your status to preemptive, strategic leader instead of disgruntled politician. This path demands preparation, yet if done correctly facilitates authentic collaboration.
  • Try on alternative viewpoints and follow the line of logic through to the end, temporarily setting aside what is perceived as insurmountable hurdles, while listening with intent to find new paths for success.
  • All passive-aggressive antics put aside in favor of alliances that leverage strengths at multiple levels of the organization.

Furthermore, snuff out the disorder entirely by saying, yes, and we are going to do the following, never allowing challenges to be stated without potential solutions. 

Yes, And…

• Resign from the Weather Channel. There are no points for number of words spoken or reports generated. Listening without attempt to demonstrate cleverness, the skill set required for effective management and leadership.
What we need is more judging, said nobody, ever. Meet everyone where they are, not where you wish they were. Ask open-ended questions such as, what do you consider the biggest challenge you are facing? If you can smell a political response, keep asking until authenticity prevails.
• Collaborate on solving uncovered challenge (s). Although not your interpretation of the issues at hand nor necessarily allied to companywide priorities, at least you will have accomplished something since talking at people accomplishes nothing. After taking small steps together, begin introducing bigger picture perspectives; large-scale improvements never abandoned in favor of status quo. Instead, take the necessary time to introduce concepts within a framework managers understand.
• Attempts at feedback may be messy on both sides so compassion is necessary while slogging through this learning curve. All hopped up on Mountain Dew lapses expected, just as you struggle to listen for ways to contribute instead of talking incessantly.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not easier to lean back, grumble and attempt to ignore ineffective management, but it is a well-worn path for which you will find much precedent. In contrast, I’m advocating for using all your resources inspiring input from multiple levels of your organization never accepting a weather report when action required.

In conclusion, there will no doubt be days when you need to mutter, beam me up, biscotti but hopefully short lived and more easily overcome as your awareness and skill set expands.

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Recipe adapted from Biscotti by Lou Seibert Pappas.

Biscotti al Cioccolato

¾ cup hazelnuts, toasted with skins removed and roughly chopped

Beat
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract

Sift
1 ¾ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 Tablespoon powdered coffee or espresso
1 teaspoon baking soda
Dash of salt

Add dry ingredients to wet, and then fold in nuts.

Form into logs and bake for 50 minutes at 300 degrees
Cool 5 minutes on rack, then cut into biscotti shape
Return to 275 degrees oven for 20-25 minutes, turning them to ensure cookies are crisp.

Glaze with melted chocolate if desired

Disclaimer: The story and recipe above should not be considered advice as the readers and users of Chocolate Cake Mondays are not clients and therefore CCM is not liable for reader’s reliance on the information herein.