How not to impress the boss

I was in a team meeting today when one of the team, seemingly unimpressed with a reorganisation, made his views crystal clear. To spare the blushes I’ll call him “Jamie”. And before I comment on both what he said and the wisdom of saying it, a few other thoughts.

Foot in mouth

It seems that Jamie was not too impressed with the way that certain parts of the reorganisation outcome was announced at the team meeting – essentially the structure of the management team.  Whether Jamie felt slighted or simply disliked the process I am afraid we shall never know because once he said to the boss “your man management style leaves a lot to be desired” the conversation took a very different path.

I don’t have any problems in disagreeing with my manager, nor in having someone disagree with me.  It’s normal and can promote a healthy discussion – but I don’t agree with personal attacks in a public forum.

Professional disagreements can be raised and discussed professionally, although I try never to back anyone into a corner in public – far better to leave them a face-saving way out and make a friend than the other way round and create the opposite.  And if I were to have an issue Continue reading


Teambuilding – suddenly it all went right

Tuckman's group development stages

I spent last week in a hotel chairing a series of design workshops.  I don’t know much about the detailed design, but I had to be there to sponsor – and to make a decision if there was impasse or argument.

Because I didn’t know enough to take a hugely active part, I brought together an international team of users, techies, and the software suppliers.  At the end of the week we had completed everything we set out to do, and all participants thanked me for a well run, focussed, and successful week.  I just ran it as I would want someone else to run it if I were a participant, so on this Saturday afternoon I’m reviewing what I did that made the week successful: Continue reading

Perceptions – and management behaviours

A few posts ago I wrote about not judging books by their covers, and today I’m thinking again about the same sort of thing – but this time in the workplace.

As managers it is incumbent upon us to demonstrate those leadership and managerial qualities that we wish to develop and engender in those around us, but how many times have we all seen others act in a way which they would not tolerate from their reports?  This shows a lack of respect in one direction, and a creates loss of it in the other.

The hit comedy “Yes, Minister” made fun of this type of double standards behaviour by referring to it as an irregular verb, for example:

  1. I have an independent mind; you are an eccentric; he is round the twist.
  2. I give confidential press briefings; you leak; he’s being charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act.

Whilst this is in the context of a television sitcom, it shouldn’t detract from the important characteristic being lampooned, and one of the aphorisms we all learned as children: “do to others as you would be done by”. 

Not everyone is born as a natural leader, and some only have people follow them out of a sense of morbid curiosity.  Leadership can be learned and encouraged, and people will want to follow a leader who has their respect – this time neither a carrot nor a stick are required!

So my question to ponder for the day is: what positive behaviour trait do you most admire from your leaders, and how can you emulate that to achieve similar respect?

The art of leadership (according to Dilbert)

Today I had an epiphany.

I have a tear-off, one sheet a day, Dilbert calendar on my desk.  I enjoy the humour and the cynical accuracy, and I pretend that I have never met people like the cartoon nor found some of the situations to be uncannily accurate.

And reading today’s strip I wondered how much we fall for the confidence trick: leadership is the art of trading imaginary things in the future for real things today.

In this context perhaps there are two sorts of manager: those who will develop and encourage their people, and those who exploit the staff to better serve their own careers – the latter being the more likely to use Dilbert’s art.

Maybe, then, Lewis Carroll also understood the lure of the dangled carrot – with the Queen of Hearts proclaiming to Alice [in Wonderland]: “The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today“.

Knowing that there is no jam tomorrow, why do we chase the dangling carrot? Because even though our rational brain says “no”, there’s still a worm of hope which says “maybe” – a gambler who wants te believe.

Now knowing the art, I know which leader I want to be (and it’s not as evidenced by Catbert!).