A Ladder Shaker is someone in a role that does nothing productive but actively obstructs skilled technicians and dramatically reduces their productivity. Typically, these are people managing relationships between departments or in dedicated process-focussed roles such as Problem Managers, Change Managers, Incident Managers and so on. They usually have little technical expertise but are well versed in process.
I coined the term when my boss had just returned from a tour of our off-shore, outsourced centres in India. In our management meeting, he observed that while one of our offshore team was metaphorically up the ladder changing the light bulb, six of our company staff were holding the ladder. “John*,” I said “they’re not holding the ladder, they’re shaking it.” From then on, I referred to people who have jobs that achieve nothing and get in the way of the people who are doing productive work as laddershakers.
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*Not his real name