I’d Never Lie—Would I?

I’d Never Lie—Would I? You’d never lie, would you? Consider this scenario. You manage a software development group which has a multi-year project. It’s been one disaster after another. The first year, the client kept changing the specs. By the time that was sorted, you were almost six weeks behind. In the second year, the programmers ran into all kinds of problems not foreseen by the (now fired) systems architect. The programming started almost three months late. However, some simplification of the Years Three to Five plans should get you back on track by mid-Year Five. But the mid-term review is coming up. You meet with your boss, Rhonda, to discuss. Rhonda: Paul, I’m really worried about your report. You: I know it looks bad now but we can catch up by Year Five. Rhonda: But what if the executive committee doesn’t buy that? They’ll shut us down. Which means lay-offs. All your guys, I’d expect. You: (desperately) I’m sure we can make up the time. We just need the rest of the funding. Rhonda: I’ve got to take something more positive to the executive committee. Otherwise, we can kiss both our careers good-bye. You leave the meeting frustrated and,…

Letting Your Own Needs Interfere With Your Management Responsibilities

Letting Your Own Needs Interfere With Your Management Responsibilities You, of course, never do this. You are totally objective and above all such pettiness. Un-huh. And when you get over yourself, you can be welcomed back into the human race. In the workplace, companies demand everyone make decisions based on what’s good for the company and not themselves. You’re a team player if you do and a selfish, ambitious, and self-serving person if you don’t. So, it’s natural to present yourself as the company wants you to be. But your own needs can get in the way Unfortunately, companies aren’t entirely wrong (even though they are entirely self-serving) in their view. Enterprises generally work better if people think of the bigger picture rather than of their own advantage. Which still doesn’t take away from the very human need to try to get what is best for us (i.e. me) versus the balance of humanity. Everybody wants things to go their way. The issue is compounded for managers because they often have within their power to decide questions in which they have a personal stake. For example, in deciding holiday schedules, you have the final say and it turned out the…

How do I Manage to Minimize Groupthink?

How do I Manage to Minimize Groupthink? In the last post, I covered whether to deal with underground, and often incorrect, employee perceptions. I think you need to as a manager and doing so will help address one of the most pernicious undercurrents: groupthink. What is groupthink? Groupthink is one of several undercurrents of which most people are unaware but which can materially affect their careers. Specifically, groupthink is the tendency of a group to seek consensus even if it doesn’t produce the best solution. It is a major bar to innovation. In future, I’ll discuss the phenomenon in more detail but right now, I think it is sufficient to say that groupthink comes from an almost overwhelming need of most people to get along with their colleagues. This need can sometimes lead to papering over issues which should not be, or even starting to believe that you are in error because  of the group’s differing expressed views. This is what happened in the post on deciding holiday schedules. I realize that in the panoply of management responsibilities, deciding holiday schedules is right down there, but I chose that situation precisely because it is minor to show that undercurrents can…

What are the Undercurrents of the Dark Side?
Dark Side for Employees / March 26, 2018

What are the Undercurrents of the Dark Side? Last time I gave an example of a group meeting where you wanted to vote ‘no.’ But despite this and having promised a colleague Thomas to do so, you voted ‘yes’. Why did you do it? Thomas would say you chickened out. The others in the group might assume you saw the strength of their arguments. At the time, you thought it was about fear of repercussions and that the larger group had a point. Anyhow, your ‘no’ vote wouldn’t have made any difference to the outcome. While all these explanations are possible, I think there are deeper reasons. Organizational undercurrents I think you were caught up in an organizational undercurrent .Organizational undercurrents are persisting, behavior-shapes systems which operate under the radar of most people but nevertheless have a compelling influence on what and how work gets done. They can force you to do things opposite to your intention (as you did in the previous example) can have even more devastating consequences than the relatively trivial example I used. What are organizational undercurrents? There are many undercurrents but in the blog, I’ll deal in detail with five: Power is the currency and…

Getting Your Ideas Heard

Getting Your Ideas Heard We’ve been discussing dealing with the theft of your idea by a co-worker. The discouraging truth seems to be that it’s very hard to win this battle. So, instead you need to win the war. A much more positive way to approach this is to become the go-to idea guy. That is, the person the boss expects to come up with original ideas. First, of course, you have to have the innovative ideas to pitch. That I can’t help you with. If you do not typically come up with new takes, then I’d make my mark in some other way. Otherwise, you’ll end up like Emmett. But having the idea is not enough. You’ve got to get the powers-that-be excited about it. Getting a new idea adopted Again, if you generally work with a good group, you can create that excitement by having lots of colleagues sharing your enthusiasm. And this is by far the preferable way to interest your boss. However, if you are in a group with one or more confirmed idea-stealers, you might want to answer the following questions as a way to pitch your idea to your boss. Is there anything else…