The Irresistible Force and the Immovable Object

A middle manager’s view of change As managers get older their chances of promotion shrink.  There are fewer senior jobs than junior jobs.  The sad truth is that if you haven’t “made it” by the time you are 40, you probably never will. There is little upside to being a middle-aged middle manager. But most middle-aged managers have plenty […]

Performance Management Best Practice

What is the best way to improve staff performance? There is an awful lot of performance management “best practice” out there.  Lots of books, seminars, HR gurus and management consultants who tell you what to do and sell you a model. But which practice is the best practice? In 2002 the corporate leadership council decided […]

Good Boss, Bad Boss

What makes a good boss? Julian Birkinshaw wanted to know. After pondering the question for a while, he came to the conclusion that the best way to find out was to ask some employees.  They are the people most capable of defining what a good or bad boss looks like — we have all worked for a nightmare or […]

Should You Dress Like Your Boss?

Conformity Have you ever noticed that people conform? If your boss comes into work wearing a pin strip suit it will spread.  Before you know it, there will be wall to wall pin stripes. If your boss is more of a creative type — skinny jeans and a hipster beard — then you can rest […]

Do Targets Work or Not?

In summary: I hope the last two posts have demonstrated admirably that: Targets work Targets don’t work I also trust that is nice and clear. So which is it? The problem isn’t the target, it’s the culture. Do you have a culture that accepts that failure is inevitable when you are pushing the boundaries? Does your culture treat failure […]

Targets Don’t Work!

A management education 21 years ago I was a bright young thing.  I was single, had a good job and I was determined to make my way in the world.  I am a strong believer in education so I decided to study for an MBA.  I learnt about: Operations Marketing Information Technology Human Resources Finance I […]

Targets Work!

In praise of the goal On the 25th of May 1961, in a speech before the joint session of Congress, the President of the United States set his country a goal: This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him […]

Clear Desks and Other Management Claptrap

Busting management myths I love social psychology, it fascinates me.  I particularly like experiments.  It is one thing to put forward a theory about why people behave the way that they do; it is another thing altogether to prove it with some data. Let me give you an example, how should you set up an office? […]

A World Without Objectives

Objectives: could we manage without them? How would we cope?  The guys in H.R. would throw up their hands in horror. We couldn’t rate our staff. Pay for performance would flounder. Annual appraisals would become a farce. We wouldn’t know what we were doing. How could we manage our businesses? But how do we manage with objectives? They just get […]

The Management Dilemma

Scientific management Some people think management is a science.  It has clear rights and wrongs, with best practices to follow and benchmarks to beat.  Success lies in targets, goals and objectives; building the right processes and having the right infrastructure.  Organisations are just machines.  By applying cold hard logic you will get results. Clarity is a good […]