A Good Way to Develop Ulcers

By Don Shearon

First Published October 2, 1971
Webster defines an “administrator” as “one that administers, especially public affairs.”
This isn’t too enlightening.
Another edition of Webster, however, gives a cross-reference to “executive” which is defined as “one who holds a position of administrative or managerial responsibility.”
The “administrator” or “executive” party generally is envisioned as a fellow who has clawed his way to the top of the heap, possesses a key to the executive’s washroom and doesn’t do very much except find chores to keep other people out of mischief.
Having had occasion to become acquainted with a number of individuals who had acquired this supposedly enviable status, we can say without reservation that none of those we have known fit this popular notion to any marked degree.
We don’t know whether it is original with him or if he borrowed it as we are doing here, but J. Hilton Rhoades, editor and publisher of the Blair Enterprise, came to the defense of administrators fairly effectively, just a few weeks ago. Administrators, he said, are a fortunate lot, for, as everybody knows, an administrator has nothing to do.
That is, except …
“To decide what is to be done; to tell somebody to do it; to listen to reasons why it should not be done, why it should be done by somebody else or why it should be done in a different way; and to prepare arguments in rebuttal that are convincing and conclusive.
To follow up to see if the thing has been done; to discover that it has not been, to inquire why it has not been done, to listen to excuses from the persons who should have done it and did not do it; and to think up arguments to overcome the excuses.
“To follow up a second time to see if the thing has been done; to discover that it was done but done incorrectly; to point out how it should have been done; to conclude that as long as it has been done, it might as well be left the way it is.
“To wonder if it isn’t time to get rid of a person who never does anything correctly; to reflect that the person at fault has a wife and seven children, and certainly no other administrator in the world would put up with him for a moment, and that in all probability any successor would be just as bad, or worse.
To consider how much simpler and better the thing would have been done had he done it himself in the first place; to reflect sadly that if he had done it himself, he would have been able to do it right in 20 minutes, whereas, it turned out, it took someone else three weeks to do it incorrectly.
But, to realize that had he done it himself, it would have had a very demoralizing effect on the whole organization, because it would strike at the very fundamental belief of all employees—that an administrator has nothing to do!”
This, then, is how Editor Rhoades sees an administrator occupying all that time during which he has nothing better to do. Our only quarrel with this assessment is that bit about concluding that “as long as it has been done, it might as well be left the way it is.”
Most administrators of our acquaintance would instead lose no time in locating another peasant to start the job all over again, then turn to the next portion of Editor Rhoades’ dissertation—the part about getting rid of the hapless guy who fouled up everything from the beginning.
Can anyone come up with a better formula for developing an ulcer?


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