STUPID MANAGEMENT IDEAS

I find it amazing that people in senior roles in business management are as susceptible to fads in the same way as are overweight teenagers hoping to shed some kilos before their graduation party.

The major difference is that business fads can have a significant affect on thousands of people over a prolonged period of time and thus waste thousands of employee days and millions of shareholder’s dollars. I have always believed that the blame often lies with the large global consulting organisations which need to keep generating these “fads” as a way of creating new solutions that only they can implement, to solving problems that only they have identified. All they need to do is to find the right senior executive in an organisation who is weak enough to be sold on an idea he doesn’t understand to solve a problem he didn’t know existed.

Here are three I have always disliked:

1. MATRIX MANAGEMENT

The theory is that you have functional reporting lines as well as say geographic reporting lines, so the country marketing manager would report to the global head of marketing as well as the country MD, or all engineers report to the engineering manager, but also report to the manager of the project that they are working on. The idea is that this enables specialisation which increases depth of knowledge and allows better professional development, as well as facilitating knowledge sharing across task boundaries.

Source: NASA NPR 9501.2D; via Wikimedia Commons


The reality is that a complex multi-faceted matrix creates confusion in employees as to where their loyalties lie amidst on-going turf wars as to who has the strongest line to the employee. It generally also increases the number of managers, particularly when compared to a well-managed and flat line-organisation. This has the effect not only of driving up costs by increasing the number of expensive non-revenue generating heads, but also drives up the number of meetings to ensure alignment, and slows down the decision making processes. It also allows people to finger point and play the “blame-game” when things go wrong.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) where I worked for 8 years had an over-developed matrix organisation that I believe eventually helped lead to the company’s demise. People who failed in the field could find roles in the myriad of HQ-based product lines, meaning that some truly incompetent people now had a mandate to interfere in what was happening around the world, rather than just being limited to one country. As a country MD you had to negotiate separately with every one of the product lines that you had demand for in your country. For example, Laboratory Products (LDP) might offer to fund 4 salesmen in return for $6 million in revenue, whereas Education Products (EDP) could offer you just 3 salesmen for $8 million, and so it went on, making the yearly budgeting process take up an inordinate amount of management time that would have been better spent in running the business.

Author: Snaevar (own work); via Wikimedia Commons


Sun Microsystems was in the process of heading down the same route of moving from line to matrix when I left in 1993, having created an organisation where the country MD had direct control only of the sales force and his PA, everyone else in the company reporting to someone sitting in California. They didn’t survive either.

2. MANAGEMENT BY CONSENSUS

The theory is that rather than have top down decision making you get “commitment through involvement” by having everyone in the group involved in the decision making process. Everything is developed through collaboration with unanimous decisions being the primary goal.

By Mysid (SVG), Everaldo Coelho and YellowIcon (raster); via Wikimedia Commons under the GNU Lesser General Public License


The reality is that as everyone involved has the right to be part of the decision made, it also means that everyone involved has the ability to kill an idea and a decision simply by not agreeing to it. This means that only innocuous and non-threatening decisions are ever made, being generally decisions that do not drive change and do not cause any ripples in the organisation. Tough decisions get shelved again and again as they are too hard to drive to a consensus. The idea that “no one of us is as smart as all of us” does notwork when it comes to management decisions. It may work (though rarely) when it comes to brainstorming (see “Innovation and brainstorming sessions” posted May 16, 2011), but ultimately it is just encouraging the herd instinct. The truth is that even when there is a consensus it can be a decision that no-one actually wants to own, and even one that no-one actually agrees with, but one that has been taken because it is just easier than having to keep sitting there until you actually get a decision that is workable and beneficial to the entire group.

3. SIX SIGMA

The theory is (thanks to Wikipedia) that Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization (“Black Belts”, “Green Belts”, etc.) who are experts in these methods. Each Six Sigma project carried out within an organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified financial targets (cost reduction or profit increase).

via Wikimedia Commons; under the GNU Free Documentation License


The reality is that it is a way for consulting firms to make large and embarrassing amounts of money by passing themselves off as six sigma “black belts” when they generally have just a basic understanding of the tools and techniques. It can also breed a cadre of internal certified black-belt smartasses who believe that they have a better understanding of how a job should be done than the people actually doing it. A Fortune magazine article pointed out that “… of 58 large companies that have announced Six Sigma programs, 91 percent have trailed the S&P 500 since …” making many people believe that the six sigma craze is just a massive con. I believe that it is a way to strangle a company as it focuses only on existing processes and does nothing to drive change or innovation, and that the only visible increases are in the number of meetings that generate no results, and in the number of irritating people who, because they have spent an incredible amount of company time and money getting their certification, now believe that they have the right to interfere in everyone else’s business areas.

As Albert Einstein said “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the first one”.

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VIVE LE FRENCH CUSTOMER

It’s not easy being a customer in France as the concept of customer service is not something that is deeply embedded in the French psyche (See “Vive le French Customer Service” posted November 29th, 2010). The underlying issue is that the French do not buy into the maxim that “The customer is always right”, nor the concept that the person providing the service is actually there to “serve” the person paying for the service (See “Vive le French Artist” posted January 12, 2011).

The French revolution of 1789 won the French the right for equality, and therefore the concept of being there to serve smacks of subservience, and this is not acceptable under any circumstances.

This means that visitors to France often get the impression that the French are rude, which is not the case at all, and knowing how to behave appropriately can make a visit more pleasant, so here are some tips on how to handle French service providers.

1. Cab Drivers

French “cabbies” use their cabs primarily as a newspaper and magazine reading room and therefore see potential passengers as an intrusion on them keeping up with the latest scandals of the French ruling class. They will reject your fare if you are not going anywhere they would find interesting, if you are only planning on travelling a short distance or if you are a group of four, and therefore need the front passenger seat as well, as this will mean having to rearrange their life’s detritus scattered on the front seat beside them. You will also need to load your own luggage as the driver will be suffering from a back injury, and he will disregard any requests to turn down the volume on his radio as it is his car not yours.

Survival tip: If you can afford it use a limo service or, if not, use public transport (such as the metro when in Paris), where service and civility are not given nor expected. This will also enable you to get used to being jostled and pushed around, and to learn how to live without the use of queues. If you must use a cab take your own ghetto blaster and hit him with “I come from a land down-under”.

By ℍenry Salomé; via Wikimedia Commons, under the GNU license


2. Butchers

Butchers hold a position in French society well above those of medical practitioners and they generally earn significantly more than them.
People will dress up in their Sunday best for a visit to the “Boucherie” and will allocate a whole morning to the excursion. As this is akin to meeting royalty, locals once there will take their time and discuss every item on display before ordering their one sausage, one slice of ham and their wafer thin slice of boudin.

Survival tip: Walk into the butcher shop holding two €50 notes aloft, greet everyone in the shop as though they were your wealthy maiden aunt, address the butcher as “maître” admiring his red sash of valour, and offer to buy everyone in the shop a round of foie gras.

Author: Thomas Guest; via Wikimedia Commons


3. Waiters

Waiters in the US will come over and tell you their name and the fact that they are there to look after you and to make the evening memorable enough for you to remember them in your will. French waiters will try and keep away from you for as long as possible, usually arranging and re-arranging the settings on any empty tables around you until you take it upon yourself to go and collect your own menus. After being threatened with industrial action, you will then be asked to order immediately as the kitchen is about to close in the next 3 minutes. You will need to address the waiter as “Monsieur” and not “Garcon”, as you are at best his equal, and he is doing a job which does not necessarily include being of service to those that patronise the establishment. He may ask you how you want your meat cooked, or he may just decide that he knows best based on your hair style, and will generally talk you out of your own menu selections for what he would order if he deigned to eat there, which he doesn’t as the French these days prefer McDonalds (See “Vive le French Cuisine” posted May 23, 2011).

Survival tip: Do whatever he says even if you don’t speak French and never send any food back to be re-heated or cooked some more, as you will regret it. If you have sent your meal back for any change at all and it comes back with any added bean sprouts, drop €200 on the table and rush out of the restaurant. Also remember that the term “Fast Food” in France has nothing to do with how quickly it will be served to you, only how quickly you are meant to eat it.

4. Phone companies

Employees who work for phone companies are not there to help customers, only to sell multi-year usage contracts. They are very knowledgeable about these contracts, particularly how much commission they make on each one, but know absolutely nothing about any of the plethora of phones that they have available for sale, think that the internet is a fishing supplies subsidiary of the supermarket chain“intermarche” and that broadband is what fat people wear to keep their culottes from falling down.

Survival tip: Buy your i-Phone from Apple, preferably in another country, and just buy a pay-as-you-use sim card for when you are in France.

5. Pharmacists

Author: Treehill (own work); via Wikimedia Commons under the GNU license


The literal translation of “pharmacien” in French is “person who could not get in to medical school and carries a hatred of the world to their grave”. On top of this the French medical system has a tendency to over prescribe for any and all ailments meaning that every customer in a pharmacy will leave with a full pallet of medications covering every possible condition known to man at that time. Elderly people in France have the highest incidence of curvature of the spine created by the weight of medications that they have to take home after every visit to a pharmacy.

Survival tip: Do not park your fork-lift in the disabled parking spots by the front door in the mistaken belief that it will only take a few minutes to get a packet of pain killers. Studies have shown that no one has ever made any purchase in a French pharmacy in under 90 minutes, and you will leave having also been convinced to buy a year’s supply of Preparation-H, “proven” weight loss pills and support-hose for the whole family for the flight home. Remember that the French prefer to take medication via suppositories, so no matter how bad is your headache, you should wait till you are back in the car to administer.

You will also need to get used to French bluntness. In the US a shop assistant will tell a size 22 that she looks fabulous with a bare midriff. In France I once asked a shop assistant whether the trousers I had tried on looked good on me. She told me that my arse was too big and that I should lose some weight first and then try again.

I prefer the French approach.

THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN A NERVOUS BOSS

…especially if you are the one who is making him nervous.

I have to admit that I have come across some strange managers in my time.

The IT Industry in the ‘70s and ‘80s created an environment where the weird and wonderful could flourish, as due to its massive growth rates, as long as you looked good and proved that you could tie your shoelaces without tech-support, you only had to stay in a company long enough to be pushed up by the incoming hordes.

Very early in my move into sales management I had a boss (thankfully for just a short time) whose only claim to fame was that he was the tallest person in the Field Organisation, as in the entire time I knew him I could not find any other reason as to why he had been promoted, and he seemed to have a unique ability to offend everyone who worked for him.

In my next company I had a boss who measured his success by how many extramarital affairs he could chalk up along with his sales targets, and which he seemed to treat with significantly more importance.

Even when I became a country MD I had a boss who one day freaked out while driving his rental car across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so he just stopped the car in the middle of the bridge, got out and walked off along the pedestrian walkway, leaving the bridge emergency services to fix the problem of his car blocking morning peak hour traffic, and caught a cab to the airport to return to the US.

By en:User:Ianbrown; GFDL license; via Wikimedia Commons


It got me wondering about, apart from the idiosyncrasies which I am sure we all have, what were the negative characteristics that I hated most in managers that I have worked with.

1. Becoming too self-important

I had a great small Country Sales Director who when made Country MD started believing in his own magnificence. He only travelled first class, started staying only in large hotel suites (all outside company policy), and generally treated people below him with disdain. The final straw for me came when he decided that he did not have to justify his forecasts or budget planning, as now that he was so senior, I should just trust him to deliver without him having to keep me informed.

By Toyotr3333333 at the English language Wikipedia; via Wikimedia Commons


2. Believing that it’s only about money

Managing people through financial incentives alone is never enough to ensure that you recruit and retain the best people and are also able to meet your goals on a continuous basis. One manager I worked with would just keep throwing gold watches, luxury trips and extra bonuses at his sales force whenever sales dropped below budget. He never understood that he had built a culture where his sales force would hold deals back waiting to see what extra incentives would be thrown at them to drive closures. He made his numbers most of the time, but his cost of sale was wildly out of line with what made good business sense, and ultimately his revenue achievements did not compensate enough to make up for his bad business management.

By Ssolbergj (own work); via Wikimedia Commons


3. Telling lies

One company which recruited me in a senior role did so with the promise from their CEO that while they were not currently headquartered where I lived, they were planning to relocate their headquarters to my city in the following year, so whilst I would initially need to do a weekly commute, it did have a planned end date. A year after joining I found out that whilst this HQ move had been a local desire, it had never been approved by the overseas parent, and that if I was to stay there I would have to keep commuting or relocate, which was not an option at the time. I did not stay much longer, but the disruption to my life and career was considerable.

4. Being 2-faced

Managers who say one thing to your face and something else behind your back are the sort of political game players that are too dysfunctional to be allowed to stay in the organisation. I had a manager, who I inherited, who kept telling me how thrilled she was to have me take over the operation but who, from the day I arrived, was sending “anonymous” letters to the global board members behind my back, demanding my removal for lack of cultural sensitivity. The board made sure that I was made aware of this and I removed her as soon as I could do so with “sensitivity”.

5. Going around direct reports

I had one boss who would take it on himself to bypass his own direct reports and go directly to their people when he wanted something done quickly. He felt that this was a way to speed things up by not letting “structure” get in the way of urgency, and never believed that these actions would undermine the management structure that he himself had created. It is great to have a boss that is visible and interacts well with people multiple levels below him, but it is disruptive to have a boss who believes that this includes his assigning tasks to those that don’t report to him.

6. Calling perpetual meetings

Weak, indecisive managers call meetings every time that there is a decision to be made (see “Meetings Bloody Meetings” posted 18 April, 2011). This means that they can spread the blame if things don’t go as planned, still enabling them to take the kudos when things work well. One manager that I worked with believed that meetings were a way to involve everyone in the decision process as he had no doubt read a book about “involvement building commitment”, and so involved as many people as possible in every decision that needed to be made. The problem was that there were too many people involved in too many decisions which meant that ultimately no-one took responsibility for anything that was decided, and the whole place unravelled.

By Pride1760; via Wikimedia Commons


Every organisation needs some weird and wonderful people, even some in management positions, but it is important to remember that … “At some time in the life cycle of every organisation, its ability to succeed in spite of itself runs out.”

VIVE LE VIDE GRENIER

I believe that France must have one of the lowest levels of disposable rubbish per capita, as very little must actually ever get discarded, a belief supported by what one sees for sale at the French institution of the Vide Grenier (VG). Whilst this correctly translates to “Empty Attic”, I am sure that the majority of stuff just moves from attic to attic until after about 2-3 generations it will end up back in the hands of the family who started the cycle in the first place.

I know that the UK has “Car Boot sales” and Australia has “Flea Markets”, but I feel that in France we have raised this art-form to new heights.

The belief is that these were originally created in France to enable people to pass some wealth on down the generations by allowing grandchildren to clear out their grandparents’ attics to make some money. In those early days it may have been possible to find some treasures, but unfortunately those days are long gone. Today it is more about clearing out ones grandparents’ homes so that they don’t run the danger of setting fire to the old newspapers and magazines that block their hallways, or to ease the weight bearing down on century old ceilings.

Every village in France gets a chance to hold their own VG at least once every 2 years, which ensures that some of the local unwanted rubbish gets moved away to other villages thereby allowing the cycle to start again.

We have used the weekend VGs as a way of seeing different villages around our region and, to ensure that we also have a serious reason to attend, have accumulated quite a collection of old fly sprays that adorn part of a wall in our kitchen, and I am sure are still wafting hints of DDT into our airspace.


There are also added benefits in that there is always a beer tent and a sausage sizzle that I would imagine are greater attractions than the 100 or so trestle stands trying to sell old copies of “Madame” magazine which originally came free with the weekend edition of the Figaro newspaper, or old green screen computer monitors that must have been rescued from a local rubbish dump (dechetterie).

There is also generally in evidence a core of professional retailers who tend to sell wares like glassware, copper items, old tools and other bits that one would normally find in the cheaper stores, and who travel from VG to VG as a weekend second job, and who I salute for diligence in a country where most people work only the required 35 hours per week, and for whom weekends are a time to be religiously guarded for some serious television watching.


The French are generally a very pessimistic nation but the vendors at VGs exhibit overpowering unbridled optimism, based on the belief that what they have gathered is actually saleable. I am sure that the majority pack up their wares at the end of the day having sold little, if any, of their hard scavenged goodies, and just move them back into their homes in readiness for the next return trip to a nearby event, cursing the lack of taste of this day’s buyers, but content in the knowledge that someday someone with discerning taste and an eye for a true bargain will see the value and beauty in what they have to offer.


The reality is that these are more an opportunity for people to mingle in their community than an attempt at any real commerce, and hopeful vendors spend more time talking to each other and sharing a picnic lunch with neighbours than actively trying to peddle their wares. They do have a lively country fair exuberance to them that is rare in a country of controlled emotion and decorum.

While most of the junk on sale would not interest us even if it was free, we have become addicted to the whole theatre that is the true VG, and will go to 2-3 per month just as an excuse to visit somewhere we haven’t been before and to participate in the scene that these play in French rural life. We are subscribers to the monthly magazine “Aladin” that lists all the Vide Grenier and Brocante (generally a bit of a more upmarket version) markets in France, and avidly calendarise those that are planned for the Gironde and departments bordering.

Some VG/Brocantes have been going for decades and attract people from all over France like the ones in Rauzan and Pau which cover multiple days and attract thousands of people from all over France who come mainly to be able to walk around and sneer at the what is on offer rather than to actually buy anything.

We love them all, as they all have their unique elements, some snaking along river banks like the one in Branne or those that mill around the Mairie and village square like the mini one in Tabanac that was really more of a local produce and plant market than a true VG (got some great savoury scones).

They have become an integral part of our life in countryside France, and I love standing at the counter eating a sausage and onion baguette washed down with a cold beer, whilst talking to some locals about whether the rains will effect this weeks planned corn harvest or whether the Bordeaux-Begles Rugby team have any chance this coming season having been elevated to the premier league (we are supporters and subscribers and their NZ captain Matt Clarkin is a friend).

Vide Greniers may not change the world, but they have definitely enriched ours.

BAD MANAGEMENT HABITS YOU NEED TO BREAK

As well as general bad habits that need to be stopped (see “Bad work habits you need to break” posted August 1, 2011), there are many bad habits specific to those in management roles that also need to be broken.

Here are 10 of my favourites.

1. Not keeping learning

Many managers have an attitude that learning is something that they had to do along the way and that can be stopped now that they have reached a senior role. No matter how many things you are actually doing right as a manager, there are no limits to what you can learn about the complex art of leading and motivating people. There is no end state of management Nirvana, which once reached puts you in a state of management grace… it is one long journey of learning that never ends, and the better that you become the more you realise how much more there is to learn.

Author: Kalogator (own work); via Wikimedia Commons


2. Letting the financials get out of control

As a manager you cannot allow the responsibilities for financial management of your area to just pass over to your senior financial officer. His role is to keep you aware of the situation and proffer advice when needed, but ultimate responsibility for managing the financial state and balance of the business must rest with the senior business manager. When your business area is performing below its revenue budget (whether you are a CEO or a first level sales manager), you cannot just hope that things will pick up, as “Hope is never a strategy”. You must put definitive plans in place to remedy the situation from both a revenue (if possible) and cost (always possible) situation. After all, delivering on commitments is what you as a manager are being paid to do.

Author: LibertyUSArocks (own work); via Wikimedia Commons; Data source: http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np


3. Forgetting about your customers

I have long argued that whist most companies declare that “The customer is #1” (See ”The 3 great business lies” posted August 2, 2010), the customer rarely makes it into the “Top 10”. As a manager it is critical that you are always focussed on your customers’ needs, both externally and internally. This is particularly true when working in a fast changing industry where customer expectations are continually changing. If in doubt just look at the IT sector where many once high flyers have gone the way of the Dodo because they focussed on their internal brilliance and forgot about keeping their eye on what were their customers changing needs and expectations.

Author: iag (own work); via Wikimedia Commons


4. Needing to always be right

Good managers don’t always have to be right and don’t have to come out on top in every discussion.
The reason that you recruit great people is to let great ideas, other than just your own, flourish.
The role of a manager is to encourage people to be creative and innovative in their thinking, which is not possible if they are always being over-ridden by their immediate supervisor. There are even times when a clever manager will let his people run with their “lesser” idea in the knowledge that they will be more committed to its outcome when they have pride of ownership.

5. Covering your arse

Skilled managers understand that one of their critical requirements is to take calculated risk and accept that when you are pushing boundaries, not everything will work out as planned or expected. Be prepared to learn from your mistakes and ensure that the successes outweigh them. Only weak managers go out there in half-hearted attempts to drive change as they will do this with arse-covering dilution.

6. Playing politics

Understand the politics and where the minefields are, but stay out of taking sides in the political gangs and back-stabbing that goes on in most companies. Don’t tolerate politicians in your own area of responsibility, as playing politics is the refuge of those that generally have less skill and capability than that needed in the position they are trying to gain.
As Ernest Benn (British publisher 1875-1954) said “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy”.

7. Not helping others

Prioritising personal self-interest is not a characteristic of a capable manager, so just worrying about yourself and your own career and forgetting that your role is to help everyone in your team to be successful will ultimately work against you. Helping others should not be limited to just your own people but extends to all your linkages in the company where your actions, and those of your team, can make it easier for others to achieve their goals.

8. Not protecting and fighting for your people

Unfortunately “crap” always flows downhill and you cannot develop the habit of getting out of the way when it does. You must protect your people from unwanted and unnecessary load from all sides as well as removing barriers to make it easier for them to do their jobs. In the same way, you should take the flak from above for your people … their actions are ultimately your responsibility.

9. Being openly and publicly critical

You set the standards in your team and you set the attitudes about the company. Being openly critical of other managers or whingeing about other departments will encourage your people to do the same and will build their dissatisfaction with those around them and ultimately the entire company. Get into the habit of trying to help resolve these problems rather than just openly complaining about them.

10. Believing in only annual performance reviews

Performance reviews are not only about establishing and discussing outcomes of performance against set goals and objectives as they are a critical way to manage behaviour. This means that every interaction that you have with your people is a way of re-enforcing needed behaviours. It is imperative that behavioural issues are addressed as they happen, rather than waiting for a formal review process at year end, as feedback is important on an on-going basis.

Remember that bad habits are like a comfortable bed, being very easy to get into but very hard to get out of.

BAD WORK HABITS YOU NEED TO BREAK

We all have bad work habits, and whilst some may have little real impact on our careers, there are some that we really do need to overcome if we want to be more successful, whether as an individual contributor or a corporate ladder climber.

Here are 10 habits that I feel are important to break:

1. Letting the day get out of control

If you don’t manage and control your day yourself, your day will be controlled by all those around you.
Just handling the continuous flood of emails can eat up the entire day (see “Fifth Secret of Time Management” posted November 11, 2010), and many people go home at the end of a workday having spent the entire time focussed on tasks others have generated for them.
It is critical that you plan slots of time needed to accomplish those tasks that will define your success and your contribution to the whole.

2. Not planning out large or long term projects

Many people set aside large projects because when viewed as a whole they seem too hard to handle, particularly when one is already facing a large workload. Breaking larger projects into individual elements enables them to be addressed one bite at a time, making each task more easily slotted into a normal work schedule. It is critical that long term projects are broken down and scheduled in the same way otherwise one can procrastinate until reaching a point when the available time left is not enough to do justice to the project.

3. Putting off the hard stuff

The harder the action is to do, the harder it will get as time passes. For example, the sooner that one can own up to an error, a lack of knowledge or a lack of understanding, the sooner it can be addressed and corrected. In the same way, addressing unacceptable behaviour or attitude from a colleague immediately, does not allow it to become a habit or seem to be acceptable through disregard. Addressing the hard stuff immediately means that you can address the issue when it is fresh and hasn’t yet gotten out of hand.

4. Not volunteering

If we are to keep learning, it is critical that we take the opportunity to try new challenges, and that means that there are times when we have to be prepared to step forward when a volunteer is needed for a special task. Stepping out of our comfort zones is not only a learning experience but is also fun and satisfying.

5. Not standing up to the herd

It is ok for sardines to always try and swim unthinkingly with the school, but in a work environment it is important to remember the story of “The Emperor’s new clothes”. There are times when if you believe in something really strongly, no matter how frightening it can be, it is important to express your opinion even if totally divergent from that of the herd.

Emperor's New Clothes; via Wikimedia Commons


6. Not sharing information

Francis Bacon said “Knowledge is Power” but only weak people hold back from sharing knowledge with colleagues in an attempt to be more valuable than them. Those who share their knowledge and contribute to everyone’s awareness are significantly more valuable than those that hoard information.

Author: Carelesshx (own work); via Wikimedia Commons


7. Complaining about your workload

If you are truly overloaded you should talk to your boss about reallocating some of the tasks to someone else, but just whingeing to those around you about how hard you work just establishes you as a complainer rather than making them believe that you are a hard worker.

8. Not treating those below with respect

“Be nice to those on the way up as you may need them on the way down” may be an attempt at humour but is actually close to reality.
It is important to treat everyone with respect no matter what position they hold in the company. A professional is a professional whether they are a surgeon or a cleaner. Whether you will need them in your decline or not, people who do a great job in helping you in your role deserve your courtesy and recognition at all times.

9. Engaging in gossip

Successful people do not listen to gossip about others nor indulge in spreading gossip about others. Nor do they join group sessions spent speculating about what is happening in the company. There are enough true sources of real information in a company without having to believe what one hears from those who love to spread potentially bad news. These are the same people who always knew of the secret question on the exam paper that you were about to sit, and about which you knew absolutely nothing.

10. Clock watching

If a task has to be completed, then hands on a clock cannot be allowed to be the key factor that determines when it pauses. There will be times when one has to work long beyond normal work hours to meet some critical deadline, and it’s better to get used to it early. The satisfaction of achieving the successful completion of a critical task is significantly more satisfying than making sure that you take your lunch break from 1-2 or rush out the door at 5.00 pm.

Author: Jorge Barrios (own work); via Wikimedia Commons


Frank A. Clark (1911-1991) American author and cartoonist summed it up when he said “A habit is something you can do without thinking – which is why most of us have so many of them.”