Let’s start with a thank you. My publisher tells me My Job Isn’t Working! has already sold more copies than many business books do in their whole lifetime. This is entirely down to people like you. I am so grateful.
Yes, typically for me, the dust has hardly settled on the launch of My Job Isn’t Working!, and I am already allowing myself to scheme my next book. The attention span of a gnat, as has been said to me in the past.
Now I’ve had the idea for what to write about, I can’t get it out of my head. Like the proverbial itch, I need to scratch it, and this is the topic of this post.
I think my next book needs to be specifically targeted at managers.
It will useful to all managers, but the ones I have particularly in mind are those who got promoted because they were successful in their previous role, NOT because they were seen to be potentially good at managing. I’ve met a lot of them during my career: the expert engineer, the brilliant salesman, the outstanding consultant. They get rewarded by a promotion (often as a means of supposedly motivating them, not least because it might mean a bigger car or more money), and then the problems start.
Now they have to learn an entirely new skill set: how to hold a meaningful annual appraisal, how to coach, how to create a motivating and relevant set of objectives for the year…..the list goes on of course.
The trouble is they often don’t get shown how to do these things. They’ve been around for a while, and the unspoken assumption is that they will know how to do them. Even worse, if they don’t know how to, it’s a bit awkward for them to ask for help.
This constitutes a corporate elephant in the room: no one likes to talk about it. We exercise the usual conflict handling preference of avoidance, and hope it doesn’t rear its ugly head in too costly a way.
The damage done to the people they manage can be significant: in my research for my current book I came across numerous painful examples of how line manager malfunction lay at the root of much career mojo loss. My own experience bears testament to this as well. Here are a few of my personal examples, going way back to when I was a bright eyed graduate trainee:
- The manager who let me loose too early and unsupervised on ordering all the wines and spirits for a major drinks distribution depot. Result: chaos.
- The manager who couldn’t let go and micromanaged my every move (the opposite of my first example, basically.) Result: inertia and major frustration on my part.
- The manager who didn’t understand the concept of balanced feedback, and only ever talked about (actually, it was more like shouted about) things I’d done wrong. Result: I avoided him and totally lost confidence.
- The manager who was unable to communicate a clear brief, so that he could then change his mind when he felt like it. Result: high levels of conflict and wasted time, effort and money.
I find these examples easy to access, and absolutely know that there will be a wealth of examples I can draw on from my network of people I’ve worked with in the past (which may well include you, I imagine, dear reader).
My theory is that if I can write a book which shows managers what they need to know on the essential skills of managing people (which is where I shall focus, as managing things is a different matter altogether and not my sweet spot), it may do much to unlock both their potential and the potential of the people who work for them. If part of my purpose is to lead people towards happier and more fulfilled careers, this book has potential to achieve that perhaps even more than my first book, I feel.
I would love to know what you think. Do you see manager malfunction, and of so is it capable of remedy from a well written and practical guide to the essentials of people management?
Would you like to help? Join a research community where you can provide examples and give input on how the book is structured? If so, please drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org)
One thing is niggling me about this enterprise: how do I position the book in such a way that buying it isn’t an admission that you don’t know how to manage people? In a way this was a concern for My Job Isn’t Working! as well, but this could be even more of an issue. What do i call it even? Does “My Management Isn’t Working!” work as a title, without it being seen as being about “them”, not you?
This is very early days, and I intend to let this one fester gently for a good few months. But I would like to start to line up my resources, which could include you.
Let me know if you’re in. And if there are others you think would enjoy the ride, do tell them about it and get them to subscribe so I can reach out to them next time. Thank you.
I can’t resist inserting a photo of me with my book the day it arrived at home. My daughter took the photo, and when we looked at it she noticed that I’d been photo bombed by a swallow! Not only that, but if you look closely on the left hand side of the photo you can see that it appears three times, once as itself, once as a reflection in the window and once as its shadow. How cool is that?