Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Worst Management Advice Ever

What is the worst management advice that you’ve ever received?

I have an extensive list. Some of the items I took as gospel at the time (youth being a defense) and later shook my head in wonder at an extraordinary ability to ignore the obvious.

These are the biggest offenders:

"If you work hard and keep your nose to the grindstone, you’ll do well." I still work hard but it’s no longer accompanied by foolish expectations. Hard work guarantees only the immediate result of the hard work. Doing well can be a separate matter entirely. The new advice, of course, is to work smarter. Most of us try to do that. Time will reveal whether or not the smarter work was all that smart.

"If you make a better mousetrap the world will make a beaten path to your door." Emerson said that and what did he know about business? The best service or product is not always recognized.

"Treat everyone the same. If you do it for one person, then you have to do it for everyone." Says who? We make exceptions all the time if it makes sense to do so. Mindless rigidity is for machines, not people.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I love the Golden Rule and try to follow it but it poses at least one problem: Maybe the other person doesn’t want to be treated the way I do.

"Give everybody a second chance." No. Not every action deserves a second chance and some people don't deserve a first one.

"If you see a problem, correct it." Wrong again. Part of effective management is knowing what to overlook.

"Be results-oriented." You can trip over a lot of rocks while your eye is on the horizon. Basketball coach John Wooden has a better approach: Focus on improving the efforts and the desired results will follow.

"Follow an open door policy." If you work with a bunch of apprentices, this may make sense. If you don’t, this is an open invitation to disrupt your schedule. Having a limited open door policy in which some portions of the day are by appointment only can give you the ability to focus and think. As for knowing about what’s happening in your organization, you’ll achieve that by walking through the open door and talking with your employees.

"Ignore your intuition." I’ve regretted every time I followed this. Your intuition is trying to tell you something. Listen to it.

"He who hesitates is lost." And sometimes he who hesitates is saved. On many occasions, George Schultz’s advice is best: "Don’t just do something, stand there."

If you can think of any others, let me know.

No comments: