If there’s one thing managers are good at, it’s making their employees suffer. But every now and then, their devilish ways boomerang, hitting them right in their butts.
4 months ago, reddit user Ars-Torok made a post on r/MaliciousCompliance about precisely that.
When Ars-Torok was set to become a salaried team member with a hefty raise, they had to go through a probationary period where they were still hourly (with a raise). Everything was going just fine, but when the project they were working on had a minor setback, their temporary (idiot) manager forced them to put in meaningless hours, trying to use Ars-Torok as a scapegoat to save himself.
Ars-Torok could’ve disagreed. They could’ve protested. But they decided to take the longer route of malicious compliance instead. And it was worth it. By the time the dust had settled, they’d got a massive amount of overtime pay coming their way and the manager who tried to make their life miserable destroyed his career at the company instead.
Image credits: Travis Rigel Lukas Hornung (not the actual photo)
Image credits: Ars-Torok
Something like this probably wouldn’t have happened if Todd was around. “He believed that the customers came first, and his team came second. With these two cornerstones preserved, the company as a whole would benefit,” Ars-Torok told Bored Panda. “He believed that each manager could take care of their own team in this fashion, but with the flexibility to step in for their subordinate should they be unavailable.” However, it’s not like the man can work all-year-round without any days off.
Either way, he’s a wonderful leader. “Todd selected each of us on our merits, and expected us to stand up on those merits, rather than the authority of the position itself,” Ars-Torok explained. He would go to bat for us when we failed but likewise expected us to own our failures and improve. And finally, he knew when to manage us and also when to take his hands off for us to do our jobs.”
Steve, on the other hand, was an entirely different breed of corporate managers. “He’s the opposite of Todd. He believed that metrics were the most important thing,” Ars-Torok said. “He didn’t care if the issue was resolved so long as the call was picked up and then put back down in a timely manner. Each call needed a ticket and each ticket needed to be closed. In Steve’s world, supporting our clients and resolving their issues was second to fulfilling our contractual obligations on speed of service and call metrics.”
Ars-Torok said Steve liked using the phrase ‘<Name>, you are an <X>, your job is <Y>, so please leave <Z> to those whose job it is.’ Which says quite a lot about him. “He would discourage initiative or innovation unless it was directly related to the primary metric of the employee which usually was either number of calls answered or tickets closed.”
As gruesome as it looks, Ars-Torok reassured people they’ve had no difficulties with the overnight schedule. “My unique position made it easy to keep up with my friends and family as they got home for the night after work. I never felt like I was missing out on life by working third shift,” they said.
“My main motivation was the understanding that my failure would directly contribute to the inconvenience and frustration of end users who didn’t know I existed or why they were so afflicted. They would just walk in one day to all their computers being down and them unable to do their jobs. This is the person I work for,” Ars-Torok explained.
“The job of a retail worker is high stress. And their stress is our stress. My failures are their disasters, and my success is their salvation. Doing my best to ensure these hundreds to thousands of people wake up to a jobsite that is as ready for the day as them is why I have the position I do. That is my motivation.”
Ars-Torok admitted they decided that malicious compliance was the answer because they couldn’t make Steve see two feet past his own nose. According to the employee, it may have been petty of them but they own their failures, as Todd has taught them. “The client telling Steve that they knew I was sleeping and that they knew I was not at fault was a moment where he was made to understand that I had the situation controlled and that he had overmanaged. That is why I stayed up for the meeting.”
“Once I had sown the seeds of my petty lesson to Steve, I had to reap the consequences. It would be horrible of me to use this meeting as an excuse to pass on the next night’s upgrades. That would be unfair to the client, who would understand of course, and unfair to the end client, the stores I was to upgrade, who were unaware of the soap opera unfolding many states away from their store,” Ars-Torok said.
“So the understanding that my failure at that point would be unjust to the client was my motivation to see the second round of upgrades through.”
After Todd got back and learned about the entire ordeal, he really felt the need to resolve the tension. “He felt the best course of action was to send an e-mail to Steve, explaining in detail why I would be absent from the meeting, and why I disobeyed his demand for my attendance. This email would include Todd, who would then take the situation over.”
While Todd didn’t condone Ars-Torok’s action of staying behind for the meeting (which wasted their time and the company’s labor cost), he praised his employee’s professionalism in performing the second upgrade as scheduled.
“In Todd’s eyes, I had failed partially and succeeded greatly, with a net positive outcome. However, his final words on the subject were: ‘Now never pull that s**t again.'”
While telling the story, Ars-Torok had said a lot of negative things about Steve so they wanted to make it clear they didn’t dislike him as a person. They simply knew what kind of manager he was, and that he was a poor fit for their company. “I don’t think [he’s] some unfeeling monster… I feel Steve was used to managing a call center, where the calls were endless and tame. We were a helpdesk. No one calls the helpdesk to calmly discuss their bills or to request a change of service. They call because something is on fire, someone is missing, and there is a line out the door. No call is routine. No call is free of stress, screaming, or desperation. This is not an environment where you can just take the call, write down the problem, then let nature take its course. This was simply not the environment for Steve.”