"Fungible" is a new word introduced by IBM and they have been using it within IBM to describe workers who are “virtually vague and indistinguishable from others” in terms of the value of their contributions in the workplace. Now a days In many companies, you will find such people who are indistinguishable and always looking for someone’s hand holding for every task and decision making. Proactively they will never try finding ways to add value in exchange for their own recognition and the opportunity to grow professionally.
They do not have their own ability to think or innovate or have vision for big picture so they simply try working with weak employees due to their inability to delegate. They are always waiting for the boss to direct him on every single matter and this is a clear sign of “Fungible” manager.
Such people will simply prefer to work with inefficient, lazy and boot-licking juniors who will never criticize them. It also creates some new issues like efficient employees are reluctant to come up with new ideas and feel that showcasing initiative will becomes a threat to them especially when there is a “power and status” kind of management ruling in the company. Just imagine how many above-average employees out there might have suffered by such incompetent “Fungible” managers?
Sometimes such clueless managers do get financial benefit simply because they have been able to impress their bosses during an interview. It could even be the deliberate attempt by business owner or key stakeholders to appoint such "Fungible" managers who cannot efficiently manage their portfolio and remain dependent on them. Their visibility is too common now a day in mid-size companies in India.
In a long run if they continue looking at them for hand holding, very soon their bosses will lose interest in such person. One of the hard realities is that if you want respect, then you don't actually work "for" a company Instead, you work "with" a company.
If management wants people to be responsible, provide power to them along with timeline for visible results. Change the power structure. Change the company culture.
January 13, 2014