A Manifesto That You Don’t Want to Live By…

June 13, 2012

It’s easy to make a management misstep. The wrong look on your face at a meeting or a failure to thank someone for their efforts (yes, they were doing their job, but people like to feel appreciated) and you’ve committed a foul.

People will forgive occasional missteps and chalk them up to your being preoccupied or overwhelmed by other pressing problems, as long as you don’t establish a pattern of behavior that marks you as less than appreciative and supportive of those you are managing. If that happens, you will in turn lose the support and appreciation of those you manage, and that can put you on a downward spiral that limits everyone from reaching their true potential.

On a larger scale, companies get themselves into trouble in a variety of ways. Executives recognize this and attempt to address those problems by putting a lot of time and effort into crafting vision statements, articulating the values of the company, and making difficult choices on what direction to pursue – and what to give up.

These aren’t bad things to do. But there are a number of ways that things can go wrong along the way. Management that is used to having everyone “report up” versus using a “go and see” approach will lose touch with the realities on the ground. Internal competition for promotions (and status) can trump building effective working relationships that improve the operational effectiveness of the company. And so on.

The point is that while the intentions are good, actions speak louder than words. What occurs in the day-to-day actions and behaviors of corporate leadership will define the culture and operation of the company. And if those actions and behaviors are not consistent with your stated values, those values will be nothing more than hollow words to the employees at large. In a worst-case scenario, they may come to feel that the company is actually living by this manifesto instead:

The Manifesto for Poorly-Run Companies

We are uncovering better ways of running companies into the ground by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Individual preferences and perspectives of executives over listening to customers or employees

Working people longer and harder over appreciating that they might have a life or family

Collecting bonuses this year over making strategic investments

Status and position over genuinely improving the operation of the company

That is, while we might say there is value in the items on the right, we don’t really mean it and what we truly value is on the left.

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