Management By Perkele

You might be wondering what this word “perkele” means.

It’s a Finnish word. And “management by perkele” refers to certain type of leadership/managing. Let me tell a brief story that I heard from a friend of mine. After reading this, I’m sure you know what this type of leadership is all about. Friend of mine – let’s call him Tony – had a boss who was using “management by perkele” with… well, quite obvious results. You might have seen similar bosses (or even have one right now).

To make a long story shorter, I’ll take some shortcuts and try to describe things briefly.

Shortly put:

  • Tony (friend of mine) asked assistance from his co-worker Mark, who said “sure, I can help you”. Tony emailed Mark that “but you cannot code the module, since my boss said it wouldn’t be allowed… which in my opinion is quite strange, since you have been coding similar modules for other people. I’ll have to get confirmation for all this from my boss, and will let you know if you are allowed to help me.
  • Mark emailed company lead (the big boss, that’s upper in the hierarchy than Tony’s boss) about this.
  • The next morning Tony was doing a part of the application. Suddenly, his boss walked into his room shouting “Now you’ve crossed the line!! GODDAMIT, how can you decide to take Mark into helping you when I’ve specifically said that you must consult me first!!!
  • Shouting continued and Tony managed to say that “It was just a preliminary inquiry and I told Mark I would ask you. Nothing was decided” and “Is this about the fact that Mark forwarded the email to company lead – I didn’t know he would do that.” (which the boss of course denied) and also that “do you think it’s professional to come here and shout at me?”… and nothing helped. Tony’s boss was in rage (and in reality all this rage was because the email reached the Big Boss, it had nothing to do with Mark assistance).

The end results were quite obvious:

  • Tony was very near countering with the cartman technique.
  • Then of course the immediate result for Tony experienced a total drop in motivation: how the heck is he supposed to continue working the rest of the day.
  • And this of course affects all of the following work: how Tony is supposed to be effective at his work if there’s a (poohole) boss shouting at him?

The point is… if the boss has issues (like he is about to get a burn-out or is a total jerk)… then it like doesn’t help anything to go shout to people who are lower in the hierarchy. M’kay?

(Anyone have a boss who uses “management by perkele”?)

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, but if he was in a bad mood boy did he ever not keep it to himself. All the other people I have worked for have been calm and reasonable and helpful and good at managing other people and so on. You’d think that they would have to be, to be put in a position of managing other people. My dad ran his own business, what’s everyone else’s thoughts on how their perkele manager got there?

  2. This sounds somewhat like the corn-cob anti-pattern, where the person in question is in management.

    I’ve had a manager that once started screaming in our face in a meeting. I went to get the anti-pattern book and opened it up at different anti-patterns that he was practicing (not in front of the team, the point was not to insult him). He was strangely calm/nervous at hearing me telling him what he was doing wrong. Sometime bullies just need a good shove back. If you can do it in a tasteful matter, that’s great…otherwise, slash his tires :) Cartman’s technique works wonders too, I’m sure.


  3. @tonic: yeh, that article looks bit bad – the content is quite… well, let’s say that I disagree with the way the information is presented there. I suppose the words “This article may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia’s quality standards.” says it all.

    But thanks for the link, it does has some points on that page.

    @Htbaa: cartman technique :)

    @Katherine: auch

    @Robert: do’h. I’d suspect people then talked behind his back. Like… on public blogs. ;)

  4. @ Katherine – :o

    I haven’t had a boss like this. But I have had a boss that would talk about other employees behind their backs. Which only left me assuming that he talked about me beind my back.

  5. At my place it seems I can hardly do anything wrong (I rarely do anyway :-p) but a colleague of mine used to get shouted at on a daily basis, now it’s once or twice a week. Even so, I’ve heard some stories from him that would make me say to the guy to drop dead. If a boss, manager, or whatever decides he needs to treat me like shit can be sure of me letting him drop into shit, with a smile :-).

    If I were Tony I’d say, screw that guy, and in the mean time look for a better place to work. Some people think it’s their privilege as a boss to shout at people. Wrong address here :-).

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