Sometimes life just isn't fair! -"workplace drones"

Workplace drones

  • I never heard of or witnessed a workplace drone

    Votes: 1 5.6%
  • I am/was a workplace drone

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • We had one or more in a company where I worked

    Votes: 12 66.7%
  • I am aware of one at a customer/supplier

    Votes: 1 5.6%
  • I know of one that got fired with no repercussions for employer

    Votes: 1 5.6%
  • I know of one that got fired with ugly repercussions for employer

    Votes: 2 11.1%
  • I complained to a boss about one in person

    Votes: 6 33.3%
  • I complained to a boss about one anonymously

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Somebody I know complained about one

    Votes: 3 16.7%
  • I think a workplace drone is OK as long as I don't lose MY job

    Votes: 1 5.6%
  • I think all workplace drones should be outed and blacklisted

    Votes: 5 27.8%
  • I have some other opinion and I put it in my post

    Votes: 4 22.2%

  • Total voters
    18
  • Poll closed .

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#1
Today, over dinner, my companions and I got into a discussion about "workplace drones." A workplace drone is the guy who somehow manages to con his way into a job for which he has no skill or experience and manages to charm or con other people into doing all his assigned work, for which he takes the pay and credit. All of us agreed we had encountered one or more of these characters in our careers.

No one had a good word for these folks. "Leech" and "parasite" were frequent epithets, with some more "colorful" nouns and adjectives liberally added.

So, then I asked the $64 question (our bar bill!) - How do co-workers and other victims bring these parasites to the attention of a boss without looking like a whiney complainer? Worse - how do you handle the situation when the leech is a member of a "protected minority" without coming off as some prejudiced bigot? If you are the boss, what do you document to be able to fire this leech without triggering some kind of employment lawsuit?

Before I give some of the responses generated by my dinner group, I'd like to hear from some of you. I've prepared a small poll, but I can expand it if we get some good suggestions. I've made the poll anonymous, but you can click multiple answers, so the results may be skewed - don't worry, it's not scientific, just a rough measure of what the perception of Cove members is to "workplace drones."
 
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somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#2
Workplace drones are the smart aleck's and they are fortunate to be in the close circle of some management who consider them allrounders and that false assurance they emit gives them that true comfort and confidence to have them around. Workplace drones reflect top management weakness.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#4
Today, over dinner, my companions and I got into a discussion about "workplace drones." A workplace drone is the guy who somehow manages to con his way into a job for which he has no skill or experience and manages to charm or con other people into doing all his assigned work, for which he takes the pay and credit. All of us agreed we had encountered one or more of these characters in our careers. <snip>
I agree with Somashekar.
<snip>. Workplace drones reflect top management weakness.
See: Wikipedia reference-linkPeter_Principle

In my opinion it is an aspect of upper management and HR decisions. They're the ones who are paid to recognize unproductive people and take appropriate action(s). Upper management its self is often precisely what you describe: "...the guy who somehow manages to con his way into a job for which he has no skill or experience...".

As to anyone who "...manages to charm or con other people into doing all his assigned work, for which he takes the pay and credit...", in today's world it is pretty common for everyone to look out for themselves. If they can get themselves into a 'good' position relative to other folks, whether they are productive of not isn't of consequence relative to the number of them that exist in most companies (remembering that HR and top management put them in the position they are in, there's going to be more than one "workplace drone").

What I mostly see is companies laying off more and more people and expecting the remaining employees to "take up the slack", but that, too, has been happening for at least 20 years. I can say this because I have watched it happen. An example is my mother, now 95 years old, who, about 20 years ago, worked for Kings Island in Cincinnati (which is the remainder of what was Cincinnati's Coney Island relocated from it's original location on the Ohio river). It was owned by the family that owns UDF (United Dairy Farmers) whose name eludes me off hand. Anyway, they sold the business to Paramount. Paramount cut personnel dramatically and continued to do so until finally my mother (who had been continually complaining about Paramount's yearly staff and benefits reductions) was finally too old to continue to work and quit. My point in relating this is that as companies more and more treat employees as cattle, more and more employees lose any sense of responsibility for, or care about, the company its self.

In short, one can complain about "workplace drones", but they exist in almost every company, and always have, at every level, and where they exist the 'root cause' is upper management and HR decisions.
 

Ajit Basrur

Staff member
Admin
#5
Wes, this Poll could be very interesting. Would you want to reconsider the options as the current ones are too many and may not come to a conclusion ?
 

Chennaiite

Never-say-die
Trusted Information Resource
#6
Well, what is important is the 'tool' these guys use to succeed. I know a 'gentleman' who scored off mainly due to interpersonal skill rather than knowledge or experience and still got away with irritating nick names.

BTW, lets talk about only guys for that matter. LOL
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#8
A further question. How do you handle the situation I've had previously where the workplace drone was my boss?
I'll second that question. I think that most of us have experienced that at one point in time or other. :bigwave:
there's a whole school of management thinking which advocates just that: "being clever enough to get underlings to do ALL the work!";)

Wes, this Poll could be very interesting. Would you want to reconsider the options as the current ones are too many and may not come to a conclusion?
I wasn't looking for scientific surety, just talking points. Look, as I said in post 1
the results may be skewed - don't worry, it's not scientific, just a rough measure of what the perception of Cove members is to "workplace drones."
Well, what is important is the 'tool' these guys use to succeed. I know a 'gentleman' who scored off mainly due to interpersonal skill rather than knowledge or experience and still got away with irritating nick names.
Oh yeah. It is the interpersonal skill, combined with pure chutzpah which gets these drones the job in the first place and allows them to keep the job for as long as they do.

BTW, lets talk about only guys for that matter. LOL
Why only talk about "guys?" I've witnessed drones everywhere, from the secretarial pool to the executive suite, male, female. In fact, dealing with a female or "minority" drone (especially in the USA) can be a route lined with land mines and booby traps [I didn't realize the pun until I was ready to click "submit" - no apology, just recognition of the double entendre]


Don't worry about using the generic male "guy" or male pronoun "he" except when writing about situations specifically relating to a female drone. Sometimes, those drones (male and female) are protected by a special relationship with a boss. As I said - complaining to the wrong person without a little research can be hazardous to your OWN job.

So now let's take up the issue of how WE (individually and collectively) can deal with a drone in our own workplace.

  1. Do we enable (just to keep things moving) by doing the drone's job?
  2. Do we resist (overtly or covertly) by either refusing outright to do the work or saying yes, then claiming, "I never said yes. That's YOUR job. why would I try to do YOUR work?"
  3. Do we look for a way to torpedo the drone (for our own pleasure or for the good of the organization?)
 
A

AdamP

#9
Wes Bucey;413381 [B said:
So now let's take up the issue of how WE (individually and collectively) can deal with a drone in our own workplace. [/B]

  1. Do we enable (just to keep things moving) by doing the drone's job?
  2. Do we resist (overtly or covertly) by either refusing outright to do the work or saying yes, then claiming, "I never said yes. That's YOUR job. why would I try to do YOUR work?"
  3. Do we look for a way to torpedo the drone (for our own pleasure or for the good of the organization?)
Lots of good posts here - and I'm sure most of us have worked with and for these drones. My background as an 'improvement person' has allowed me to interact with what seems to be a lot of these folks. I think I know why, but it's a mess. As noted, they tend to 'charm' their way to their position. I think companies today are moving toward a 2 axis performance measurement system, coarsely called "the what and the how". This is where HR is culpable. The drones excel on the 'how' and get others to handle the 'what'. Part of their 'charm' is to be very excited and involved in the early stages of a new anything ("shiny object"). In my case that might be an overhaul to an existing six sigma program, or launching a lean implementation. Either way, there is high visibility and the drones are on it like flies on ... 'On it' of course up to the point when work begins. Then you work with someone on their team since they have been called away.

Summary - there's no real upside to playing their smarmy little game of self-preservation, but there is a tangible downside due to political damage and "how" related performance assessments where they may have input.

They're NVA part of life in a mid to large company and should be paid attention to if you want/need to do anything impacting them directly. Just my 2 cents.

Cheers.
 

Bogie

Involved In Discussions
#10
I tried complaining to the boss, but that didnt work, so I just shut my mouth and dealt with it.

I came to the conclusion that it doesn't matter to me whether it is my work, his/her work, the boss's work or the janitor's work, it all needs to be done to keep the company going. I get paid to help the company keep going, so I just do whatever needs to be done.
 
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