Posts Tagged ‘management’

My boss is useless..He said.



Couple of weeks ago I got talking to a colleague and he said ‘My boss is useless.’

That was quite a dramatic statement, so I asked him, as he expected of course, for the reason to make that claim.

He said, and I don’t think I will ever forget it, ‘I need my boss to solve problems, I cannot solve. If he cannot, then I don’t need him as my boss.’

Having vented his frustration he went off his way.

But that brief interaction stayed in my mind and got me thinking about what I, myself, wanted in a boss. I did this by looking at bosses I’d worked with over the years.

I think the most important point is that there is NO perfect boss. That doesn’t exist. Good bosses are those whose good traits overwhelm the negative ones. Quite simple, really.

In no particular order the attributes I have enjoyed, and not, from my bosses are.

TRUST: While, I did say, in no particular order I have thrived most when I have been trusted by my bosses. Not just to be given a task and be left alone, which is easy, but when someone complains about you. Especially then. It is easy to trust when things are going well. Not so, when they do not. My very first boss at Ogilvy was a shining example of that Trust. Over the years I have had a fair mix of bosses. I have realised I did well when I was trusted.

COLLABORATION: I don’t always want a boss who has all the answers. Often I need a boss who will show me how to get to the answer. Bosses, who know it all, and show it have often left me cold. But bosses who know it and will sit with you and work it so that I can solve the next problem by myself get my hat tip. Also bosses who did not know the answer, but said ‘Come, let’s find this together’, get 2 thumbs up. I have learnt so much from that process.

DO THE DIRTY: Sometimes as a junior you need a boss to Do The Dirty and take on the system of vested interests that come in the way of change, or just getting the job done. Some bosses will skulk and some will give it a good fight. The latter breed a sense of driving change in their teams and desire to make things better. I have learnt from them that no battle is not worth not fighting. Not for bloodshed, but to test the frontier and see if we can indeed make the change.

IN THE TRENCHES: Another attribute I have enjoyed in my bosses is the willingness to roll up sleeves and join forces with the teams on ground when needed. It is always easy to wish a team well for an all nighter and show up in the morning and critique. It is much harder to be with the team, as a senior, and work with them in pulling it together. I’ve worked with some clients who would do the same. We’ve done some late nights and had the client right there to demonstrate his team spiritedness. Bosses/clients who do this get that little extra respect from their teams.

INTEGRITY: This is probably as important as the TRUST, I mentioned right up front. Integrity is a big word that shows up in little things. Actually, it is its absence that is easy to spot than its presence. Using company resources for personal activity, stealing credit from where it’s really due, playing politics are the most common signs of someone who doesn’t have it. I, like everyone else, have had the pleasure of working with people with and without it. Fortunately more of the former.

Then there are the usual ones of coaching, mentoring, problem solving etc but the above form my Top 5.

I am sure you have your own preferences. I’d look forward to hearing them.



Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

Managing employees : Guest blog

I have had the great fortune of being managed by many great bosses. One such person is R Sridhar.

He has a sparkling track record and has continued to be bold and innovating in everything he’s done over his great career.

Currently he runs ideasrs where he helps clients and CEOs use innovation to break down challenging problems.

Having successfully created the illusion that I knew about social media, and managing employees he asked me to write a blog for his site. Please click here and read the article.

Social media or not, I think finally it comes down to the individual himself/herself. Long before social media we’ve had extremely successful team leaders. Social media only amplifies an existing strength.


What kind of manager are you?

September 14, 2009 1 comment

A recent conversation with a colleague got me thinking about the Q above.

He and I were talking about his earlier job and two bosses he’d worked with.

I knew both the bosses. The widely held perception is that boss 2 who we’ll call J was a much better person to work with than boss 1 who we’ll call M.

J was easy going, bright, approachable and had a reasonably good track record in the company.

M was bright, but a bully, low EQ, and generally not well liked, but a star in the company nevertheless.

They are both from the same background ethnically and from an education perspective.

And they were managing an office in an ‘alien’ culture.

I mention all this so that you have a context.

So back to the chat I had.

My colleague said that M was a greater success than J and that people in office remembered M more fondly than J.

I was, to put it mildly, flabbergasted.

M was known to shout at people, micro manage, etc. Yet he was viewed positively?

Then my colleague explained.

He said M treated everyone at start poorly. So essentially your opening account with him was 0. Then through interactions with him your score improved. And as the score improved you got treated better. Hence you felt a sense of development and achievement. This motivated the employee to do more and set off a virtuous upward spiral.

J was the exact opposite. Everyone was treated like they were a star. An extremely valued member of the team. You felt great. And as expected, as time went by and actual work interactions occurred. Some times you did well, and many times you did not meet expectations. And when you did not meet expectations, your ‘points’ reduced. Which meant that it impacted subsequent interactions. And this in turn set off a downward spiral.

So with M your relationship could improve and often did. With J there was only one way. Down.

So over a period of time staff felt a greater sense of achievement with M than they did with J.

Now factor in two other attributes.

Culture: Often this is an inhibitor in clearly defining expectations in the first place. And in this particular case J & M were in a land where English was not the first language. So one can imagine the issues around explaining expectations.

Feedback: As I blogged months ago, most organisations are not good at giving negative feedback. So in the case of J when expectations were not met, the true feedback never came. Just a sense of distance and ‘points reduction’

This got me thinking about Theory X and Theory Y and accepted norms of management.

Not for a moment am I suggesting Theory X as a style, but there is some kernel of truth in the impact of M’s management methods.

If people get a sense of progress then they feel motivated them. This of course sounds like common sense.

But I sense that with new management methods actively promoting Theory Y it becomes an excuse for lazy management and good employees can become disillusioned quickly.

If I were to give J feedback, and he was my boss once upon a time too, it would be ‘set clear expectations’. ‘give clear feedback’ and ‘use the fact that people like you to help them improve their performance’. The good start of the relationship is a great asset that should be utilised.

Neither J nor M is recommended, though M seemed to end with more motivated staff!!

1 conference call blunder to avoid

September 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Hot on the heels of my previous post on email here’s my single blunder that happens nearly on every conference call I attend.

Using the MUTE button.

Those who should don’t.

Those who don’t should.

How many calls have we been on where you can hear people coughing, talking to others, children crying. I was on a call the other day and all of us could hear a guy’s wife berating him for not spending time with the family. And no his boss was not on the call.

And how often do you ask someone a question and get no response for a while and you repeat the Q again only for the person to say ‘sorry I was on mute’.

Yet another reason to use a phone than email!!

Less blunders to avoid!!

7 email blunders to avoid

September 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Email’s been around for a long long time, yet it is amazing how the blunders mentioned in this article occur on almost a daily basis.

The 7 mentioned here are

1. Pay close attention. Don’t multitask

2. Don’t fall victim to auto fill. Cross check all names in the To and cc list. Especially the bcc list if you have one.

3. Please find attached. Attach document as soon as you refer to it. (I attach my document right in the beginning of my email, so I don’t forget it.)

4. Beware of reply all. Especially if by some chance there are clients/customers on the original email

5. Take care with those you copy. The incessant need to keep everyone informed about everything at a low cost means CCs are the default for emails.

6. Don’t be trigger happy. Especially while using PDAs. Besides potential for errors also sound brusque, even if you put the ubiquitous line ‘please excuse typos and short responses as this was sent from my PDA’

7. Be professional.

To this list I would add..there is still nothing that beats talking. It should be a crime that people email each other on the same floor in an office.

So the first blunder to avoid should be. Don’t email, if you can walk over and/or talk.

One should nearly make a check list of these and tick them before hitting that ‘Send’ button.

%d bloggers like this: