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Why its better to write than to practice

February 4, 2009

Read a good management book lately?

Truthfully, I haven’t. But in the first 3 years of my working life, I did. I read The 10 effective traits of Managers, the 5 biggest mistakes CEOs make, The 20 ways to overcome Workplace Barriers, etc. After that, I started reading Dilbert so you know where my mind was going. πŸ™‚

As I stalked the bookstores, I wondered, do people in the field actually apply these great ideas?

Yes its inspirational and yes, we should motivate our staff and impose all these behavior mod programs.

So, did any of it work for you?

The truth is, if you spend a lot of time reading how-to books for the workplace, chances are you are sitting in the lower hierarchies. You’re trying to figure out how the system works. Maybe you’re trying to overcome some irritation with your co-workers or deal with something you feel you have no control over. You get inspired by these words.

So you come to work the next day, gushing with new ideas only to have the boss look at you with eyes half closed as if saying, “Like I care.”

Actually the boss does care, except he’s got 101 more important things on his mind. Like his own boss who’s on his ass, the dept meeting at 2 o’clock, the tail light problem on his car, and the argument he had with his wife this morning. The other team members are also absorbed in their own problems.

So if you don’t have the power to hire and fire, how does one person (you) tackle a group problem that, in reality, requires a group to solve?

Workplace problems are “special” in that underneath it all is the fact that not everyone comes to work for the same reason. You may be in it for the money but others may be there to stroke their egos or to live out their megalomanic fantasies. Ever met people who enjoy pain? I have. People who don’t feel loved unless they inflict pain on others or be abused themselves, the result of some serious childhood upbringing shit. Carrot and stick? Bring it on, especially the stick.

As I’ve said before, if we could solve the problems at the office, we would have world peace by now.

I’m not trying to be cynical or pessimistic, just realistic.

Most books talk about how to change something but in my opinion, most change programs are flawed. They actually require people to realize and accept that things must change. And how do people respond to a change project?

“Is this going take long?”

“Why do I have to change anything on my side if I’m not the problem?”

“Yes I agree, and the thing that must change is Mr. So and so. He is the one that’s underperforming.”

Or, “You don’t understand how things work around here,” and then go off to continue doing exactly what they’ve been doing.

Which brings me to my online buddy LC’s quote on a typical workplace situation we see everywhere:

“We had suggestion boxes. 1/2 a year later, they remained empty. 3 years later they disappeared.
Appraisal system; after the first 2 years of hiccups, we cut/paste every submission and nobody notice the similarities.”

After proceeding with the best of intentions, there comes a time when both leader and follower give up all hope of change and become complicit in upholding the status quo.

We become the herd. You see it all the time. You see people despising other people who butter up the boss and yet when its increment time, everyone lines up to butter the boss.

You can’t win over North Korea alone when the people who despise the system are actually doing things to support it.

But if you don’t want to die trying, why not do the next best thing. Write a book. Be a guru. You don’t have to prove that your ideas actually work. You just have to be inspirational. And have a good publisher.

Yes you can make money out of the misery of the workplace while keeping yourself far, far away from it. If that excites you, then I highly recommend writing. πŸ˜€

2 Comments leave one →
  1. LC Teh permalink
    February 4, 2009 1:58 pm

    Everyone needs to read some good management books just to learn what Management Heaven’s all about. Then they grow up and face the truth and become street-wise to survive Management Hell.

    Dilbert… Heheh…he gives a nice break. In our workplace we have many carbon copies of him and his gang, esp the specky guy with the coffee mug who does no work yet remain employed.

    Wonder what does senior management think of Dilbert’s cartoons. Do they even see themselves in it. haha. πŸ™‚

  2. February 4, 2009 10:20 pm

    I used to read a lot of those and I used to be one of those highly-motivated and innocent employee who thinks by knowing a thing or two about management, I can help the business more.

    I was forced to face the harsh reality. Nobody will listen to someone as fresh as I was. If you’re a qualified consultant or someone from Harvard…then maybe people will listen to you even if you know nuts. Otherwise, you’re just a waste of time since “they” always know better.

    But I still read, but my objectives have since changed. I no longer think I can help the business. I read it because of my own interest and because i hope tat i can use it next time if i were to run my own business. After all, it’s better than reading how superman beats spiderman (also because i don like superman).

    Oh I think you should still read, if anything to form a mental baseline on best management practices. You may not be able to use all the ideas but sometimes, using 10% of it might move enough pieces to start the ball rolling. I learnt that change comes in small but strategic doses.

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