Petty Minded Sadist or Indecisive Idiot?

 Download the Petty Minded Sadist or Indecisive Idiot Survey

(AKA, Management Survey)

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Petty Minded Sadist or Indecisive Idiot?


Cusper Lynn

The title of this essay comes from a question I formulated while interviewing staff in a medical facility that was preparing for another round of layoffs.   While asking staff and physicians about their experiences of the facility, “its strengths and weaknesses,” a reoccurring comment on the subject of management’s unfulfilled promises appeared over and over again.   In some comments it was an observation of co-workers (and I am paraphrasing here) “Our new clerk was very hard working when she joined our floor, but when she found out that she wasn’t getting the raise she was promised when she was hired her work dropped off.   I got the same raise she did, but I kept working, that is just how I am.  I do my best even when I am disappointed.  But I won’t continue to work here forever under these terms.”

For others it was comments on the work environment, (once again paraphrasing, but using quotes to indicate it to have been an individual’s narrative commentary) “I find it challenging to determine how to best achieve the daily objectives of the supervisor and their manager.  When I ask for more information they become angry.  Then when I complete the objectives they tell me I missed some key thing that they say they should not have to explain to me.”

The list goes on and becomes more and more depressing and it prompted me to consider the question, “What is the difference between a Petty Minded Sadist and an Indecisive Idiot?”

The answer is, of course, “Not Much If You Work For Them.”

So now, let’s play a game.   Match up the following three scenarios with the categories of “Petty Minded Sadist” or “Indecisive Idiot.”

Scenario 1

A thirty-seven year old single mother of two is offered an administrative position that will offer benefits for her and her family, a base pay that is five thousand dollars higher than her present position and a 5% raise after ninety days. The new position requires her to relocate seven hundred miles. Two days after giving notice to her current employer, and while planning her move, she calls to handle her benefits transfer and is informed that her pay is to be the same as her previous position, there is now a companywide freeze on raises and she will have to make biweekly contributions for the benefits that cover her daughters. What type of manager hired her?


Scenario 2

A woman joins a firm in a clerical position.  She is given a starting wage of just over “minimum” during her training period and is promised thirty-two hours a week. Her employer “accidently” shorts her fourteen hours in her biweekly paycheck.  After explaining that they use an outside payroll firm and promising to “Make it up” in her next paycheck he then cuts her scheduled hours seven hours a week for the next two weeks.  What kind of employer does she work for?


Scenario 3

A manager is hired for a “Salaried” position and is “tasked” with organizing the department they have been brought into.  They answer to an executive, but their direct supervisor is the person who previously held the position and never documented anything about the department, its operations or its staffing.  The manager has to ask their supervisor for all information and cannot get the information needed to document the position.  Soon the manager finds they are working eighty hours a week, getting no support from the executive they answer to and poor reviews from the supervisor who is withholding information and undermining all department changes.  What type of Executive does the manager work for?


Now it might occur to you to note that I made the first two scenarios female and the third gender neutral.  Does that signify that those are “sexist petty minded sadists” who are preying on vulnerable members of the work force?  Is it a clue?  No.  In the scenarios above we are dealing with very common forms of pre-employment, employment and management abuse.   In the first scenario we are dealing with a reneging on or withdrawal of elements of a job offer.   This is so common in the current environment that I cannot even begin to document the degree to which it happens. The second is a variation on a category of Labor Theft (defined here as stealing someone’s time or labor) and the third is a classic “Fall Guy” scenario.   This is the one where management, lacking the ability to confront a non-performing manager who is hording operational information elects to promote them.   Then they place them in a “supervisory” position over their replacement in the hopes that they will relinquish proprietary information to their new subordinate so that it can be documented, evaluated and corrected.  While this happens in a number of work environments, I most commonly see it in non-profit organizations, particularly where the non-profit is involved in “the Arts.”  I could offer a lot of psychobabble on why this is particularly common in “the Arts” but I will instead observe that incompetent and well-connected management finds wonderfully unscrutinized employment opportunities in this sector of non-profits.

Ignoring this factual information about the questions themselves and in the interest of scientific inquiry let us look at the results of the survey.

Survey Results

Managers and Executives Surveyed

Of the fifty managers and executives asked to fill out this form the following were the results:

18 tasked a subordinate to form quality teams to research the questions and evaluate possible answers.

14 Wrote Essays defending each of the three management decisions

8 played tick tack toe

4 Wrote a brief note indicating that they would have to refer the matter to their superior

2 Wrote out notes for their next departmental meeting in the margins

1 scrawled the words “SIGMA SIX” next to each paragraph

1 Wrote out a brief and concise resignation from the company they were with when they were presented with this survey; citing the survey as documentary evidence of the organization incompetence.

Results from Staff Surveyed

Like management, Staff wrote a great deal on their survey forms and due to the number of respondents we have organized the results in percentages as follows:

Of those surveyed only 10 percent actually drew lines from the paragraphs to the descriptions.

4 percent added the word “Both” to the survey and drew all three lines to that.

72 percent either wrote “My Boss” next to all three paragraphs and then drew arrows to the descriptions or wrote their boss’s name between the two descriptions and circled them.

9 percent wrote messages that can be summarized in this representative comment. “This survey is extremely disrespectful to management and I indented to lodge a formal complaint.” This group we have, for scientific purposes categorized as either appropriately paranoid of workplace privacy and anonymity issues or as a group sorely in need of a tissue to wipe the tip of their collective nose.

Of the remaining 5% we believe we have found the correct answer to this survey and have selected, from among those the one we deem to be most representative of the mood of staff and employees in the current work environment.



So what can we conclude from these limited survey results?  First, very few people actually read instructions.  Second, large amounts of open space on any survey form invites trouble.  Third, always check to make sure no one has raided the supply cabinet for red pens and markers before giving a survey.

As to the actual numbers, it can be surmised that 72 percent of staff and employees surveyed have identified WHO they want up against the wall when the revolution comes. While only 5 percent of those surveyed believe the revolution is here.  So all in all it looks like continued smooth sailing for management and executives worldwide.

If you would like to help advance our research or simply be fired for being a disruption in your workplace you can download your own copy of the survey below to share it with your friends and coworkers.

Forward your result or information about your experiences of being newly unemployed based on wasting office time with this survey to:

Note: Cusper Lynn and Hell Bent Press categorically deny all responsibility for the use, reproduction, distribution or performance of this survey in any workplace anywhere.  The copy supplied, free of charge to members of the public to download and reproduce as provided, is provided without warrantee, without guarantee and strictly for the purposes of amusement; namely our own.

 Download the Petty Minded Sadist or Indecisive Idiot Survey

(AKA, Management Survey)

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Text Copyright 2012 Cusper Lynn


Text Copyright 2012 Hellbent Press


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