First a disclaimer. If I don't visit the barber fairly often, I do bear a striking resemblence to Dilbert's pointy haired boss. That is the only way I resemble him. But back to the posting.
I'll bet you thought that I was talking about your boss, right? Wrong. I'm speaking to you (and me, too).
As you begin your career, you usually end up working for someone. Sometimes it's great, other times, let's just say not. Marcus Buckingham, in his book First, Break All the Rules mentions that people do not usually leave their company when they quit their jobs, they leave their manager.
Your career progresses. You may come to the crossroads of decision. Do I apply for that management role, or do I stay in "the trenches". For many people in IT, the pressure of mortgages, kids, etc. tend to tip the skills in favour of the management role. It's the only viable career track in many organizations. Even if you are the best developer, or network admin in the company, you hit the salary ceiling. If you want to make more money, you either rob a bank (not wise), leave the company, or become a manager.
It is this situation in my opinion that contributes greatly to the PHB (Pointy Haired Boss) syndrome. There are a large number of skilled technical people suddenly faced with management tasks (i.e. HR, budgets, leadership, mediation, etc.) for which they have had little or no training. Pity their former colleagues who now have to work for them!
The solution is really simple to say, but difficult to implement. But just because it's hard, doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. (How many apostrophes can you put in one sentence? but I digress...). There is no shortage of good material to help you frame your issues and find a solution. I'll include some in future posts.
If you are a senior leader in your organization responsible for IT, you need to review the development of your managers. Do they have the tools and skills to be successful? If not, you may be the one modelling PHB behaviour.
Note: This posting was published as one of my entries in Computerworld Canada's Blogging Idol Contest.