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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Management 2

Q: So here we are again talking about “Management”, and you owe us an explanation about your use of quotation marks around such terms from last week.

A: You're right. My intent was to indicate a general use of the terms, covering a wide spectrum of meanings, until we have a chance in this discussion to be more precise.

Q: What's this concern with being precise?

A: It's more like an obsession about communication. Clear communication is tough enough when we speak the same language and have similar interests. It's even more challenging when we aren't careful about our choice of words and that leads to mis-understanding. So my goal is to be as precise as I can about words, critical ones at least, that are important to the point. Let's call them key words.

Q: And there isn't enough precision?

A: Generally no. For example: we talk about leading a group of people, supervising a group, managing a group, etc. often interchangeably. That's OK when it doesn't change the point of the message – the understanding. It's fine when we are being general and don't need to make a distinction.
But it hinders us when we are trying to be clear about differences, getting at specifics, or looking for improvement opportunities. In these instances, the words are important otherwise our resulting learning and actions are inappropriate, and we end up with a mess.

Q: Alright; I guess I am OK with that. Now, can we get on with it?

A: You're asking the questions. :)

Q: Fine. Let's jump into the deep end. We've all worked for “Managers” who seemed to be bozos who couldn't lead their way out of a paper bag and spent all their time playing office politics. What's that all about? What use are they?

A: Well, first of all, thanks for using quotation marks to make your question general and applicable to a large number of situations. Nevertheless, I am going to ask you for more precision: What is your problem with that situation?

Q: You can't be serious! Clearly that's a problem – they are incompetent.

A: Perhaps they are, but we don't have that data yet. Let me ask you a question: As someone working for that kind of Manager how did you do?

Q: Well, I was fine. I mean: I knew my job, I knew my objectives, I knew my boundaries, I knew how to get things done and I did them. But what if I was a new employee or new to the group, then what?

A: OK; then as far as you getting the right results there wasn't a problem, right? So, if I were to judge your Manager on that basis I would say he did the job required; i.e. your Manager had you produce the right results.

Q: Come on! The guy was a bozo and had nothing to do with me getting the results I did – I did everything for myself.

A: Then it sounds like you were the ideal employee and your Manager let you get on with being successful. And so the problem is...?

Q: OK. So, first you try to flatter me, and then you ignore the other part to my question, and now you are trying to make me look silly.

A: And perhaps you are getting just a tiny bit emotional. That's good; humans are supposed to be emotional even at work. If I may, I want to talk more about the data here first, and deal with the emotion later.

Q: No way! Now you are being condescending and I'm getting angry. And being emotional at work is unprofessional and unproductive, everyone knows that!!

A: Alright. I understand that you feel like I was trying to flatter you, and I sounded condescending. I did indeed bypass part of your concern relating to new employees. I'm sorry my approach is annoying you.
I absolutely agree that it is commonly accepted that emotions in the workplace are unprofessional. Would it be alright if I explained myself a little before we continue?

Q: Hmmm... I think I need a break.

A: We can do that; and reconvene next week?

Q: OK.

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