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The Dummy's Guide to Management for Idiots (Part I)

by Norm

Learn how you can be a more effective manager at work, and in real life.

To paraphrase the great philosopher, René Descartes, “I manage therefore I am.” 

This has been the guiding principle of my life and career.  Not only that, but also, “I am, therefore I think I manage.”  In this regard, I’m bi-philosophic (but perhaps, not gay).

When people ask me, “How are you doing?” my response is invariably, “I am managing.”   Indeed, managing is in my blood, in my guts, in my cells, in my DNA, even in my shorts.  It’s not just what I do, it’s what I am - which is to say, a manager.

The Philosophy of Management

Being a manager is in some ways like being a father or a mother.  Or in other ways like a rich uncle or a distant cousin. You are part of an extended family, and everybody is looking to you because you are in charge.  It’s lonely at the top, as they say, stuck with the tough problems, and the impossible challenges.  So you'd better have a management philosophy to guide your decisions.  Otherwise, you might be accused of being ad-hoc or a ham hoc or  maybe even a terrorist.

My own philosophy of management can be summed up in these words:  "Unfortunately, it’s all about people."  Yes, while it is entirely possible to run a business without people, especially if you’re in poultry,  most normal businesses require them.  The problem with people, though, is that they have to be managed.  And that can be a challenge. 

In order to manage people effectively, they must actually do what you tell them to do.  But people have their own personal agendas, their own negative attitudes and their own minds.  Also they have body odor and dental issues.  Face it.  People are pretty much unmanageable, especially spouses and children.  To address these and the multitude of other obstacles standing in the way of managerial success, the manager must apply what is known as "management."

These Are The Animals In My Company

Because you may not actually have any talent as a manager, at least not yet, you need simple management solutions to tackle complex problems.  And no one solves complex problems better than the founding father of modern management, Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric.  Welch developed a philosophy so simple, even hacks like us can follow it.  Let's get down to business classifying the people at your business - Jack Welch-style! 

You may already know that humans are actually animals.  So it goes, most people at corporations are animals, except for those that are vegetables. 

Your organization consists mostly of turkeys and foxes.  Your strategy is simple:  Slaughter the turkeys and feed them to the foxes to increase the share of the pie for the pigs.  Right.  I forgot to mention the pigs.  And the weasels, too!   The weasels are always trying to outsmart the foxes, while leaving the turkeys in the dust. 

Oh yes, I also neglected to mention the rattlesnake spewing its venom throughout the organization.  And the hyena spreading misinformation. 

O.K.  I think I have it now.  Your strategy is to slaughter the turkeys, feed the foxes, nurture the weasels, shoot the rattlesnake, trap the hyena, service the pig and placate the bear.  Damn - did I forget to mention the bear earlier?  Whatever you do, don’t mess with the bear for goodness sakes!

Real Life Example

The philosophy of likening the people in your organization to animals greatly simplifies your path to success, doesn't it?  Take this example... 

You know Milton in Accounting?  The guy who is constantly nickel and diming you on your expense reports for unauthorized lunches and alcoholic beverages and business retreats?   He’s a hyena - at least you want everyone else to believe he is a hyena - so that they'll ignore what he's telling people about your expense reports. 

Then there’s Jason in Business Development who has recently been holding impromptu "meetings" with Laura in Sales.  You know Laura,  the girl you’ve had your eyes on for the past two years and was on the verge of asking out for one of those illicit dinners that Milton would most likely give you grief about.  Jason, of course, is none other than the rattlesnake.  Not Laura, though.  She's just  a fox.

To succeed in this situation, you have to apply your managerial principals.  In short, you must trap Milton the hyena into being part of the next round of layoffs.  You must also shoot Jason the rattlesnake, so that you can have Laura the fox for yourself.  Then you can go on to feed the fox over a romantic dinner.

You see how easy that was?  

Read "Management": Part II

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