REFLECTIONS FROM LONG EXPERIENCE
I have worked with managers over nearly 40 years - as a management school lecturer and dean, as a senior manager with responsibility for companywide management development and as a consultant - all sectors, all ages, all levels of effectiveness.
I care deeply about how managers do their work - after your husband/ wife/ partner, your boss is probably the most influential person in your life. They can make life for the individual very positive or absolute hell and they can bring about wonderful results or staggering failures for the organisation and its clients or customers. The best outcomes are the result of a magical combination of talent, commitment and a first rate fit between person and context.
So, over the years, I have pondered on whether there are any general rules to guide the working lives of managers and I have found only three that seem to be true just about everywhere. They are these:
- THE LAW OF RECIPROCAL TREATMENT - Staff of any organisation will have a tendency to treat their customers as they are treated themselves by their bosses.
- THE LAW OF INDIRECT PROFITABILITY - Any service, product or event, that is developed specifically to make money, will be far less profitable in the end than an equivalent that is developed to please its consumers.
- THE LAW OF PERCEIVED INTENTIONALITY - All more junior staff have a tendency to believe that every action of more senior people is intentional, however much the evidence suggests it is a cock-up.
These are particularly difficult laws for any manager who believes that he or she "deserves" a good and loyal organisation by right of status. However, the most effective managers have no difficulty in recognising how much they can influence the organisation, but also have the humility and understanding to know that their own success is entirely dependent on being able to get the best out of the people they work with. And most of them have a good deal of fun in the process!