Last week, I posted some questions for you managers out there. Or, as I referred to them:
This week, I’m posting the answers. So check them out, and see how you did.
(1 point for each correct answer)
Question #1: If the roles of “advisor” and “evaluator” are incompatible with each other, how is that you—as a manager—are expected to act as both when it comes to your subordinates?
Answer: You can’t be both. So pick one: Evaluator? Or advisor?
Q#1.5: If you are in fact responsible for assessing your employees’ performance, how do you explain the “catch-22” this creates? After all, one of the things that seems to most influence employee performance is how well a person is being managed.
Answer: It can’t be explained. You simply can’t be expected to objectively evaluate those you manage, because that really means you’re evaluating your own capacity to manage. And this is a conflict of interest of the highest order. (By the way, this should help you decide which role to choose in question #1.)
Q#2: Organizational efficiency is supposedly increased by both “flattening” an organization, and by limiting a manager’s “span of control.” But to flatten a hierarchy you must necessarily increase that span of control. So how’s that supposed to work?
Answer: It doesn’t work, and will never work. These two management “principles” are paradoxical. (For more on the paradoxical nature of all management advice, please see “Why you can throw out that management advice book – Parts 1,2&3”)
Q#3: The “teamwork” that all managers talk so much about seems to require “taking one for the team” on occasion – or subordinating one’s own interest to those of the collective, so to speak. Except that doesn’t sound like something a capitalist would say, does it?
Answer: It most certainly does not sound like what a capitalist would say. And that’s because “subordinating one’s own interest to those of the collective” is a Marxian principle. This suggests that the concept of “teamwork” really has no place in the management of a for-profit enterprise operating in a free market – an environment in which all actors are expected to act in accordance with their own best self-interest.
Q#4: Why is it still who you know, and not what you know, that’s so important at most companies? In other words, why all the “office politics”?
Answer: Office politics are actually the symptom of another, larger organizational issue. Contrary to what many believe, the companies we work for aren’t the little meritocracies we like to think they are. Not even close. So until we transform them into environments wherein genuine hard work consistently pays off, office politics will unfortunately continue to exist.
Q#5: If the person closest to a problem is typically best equipped to solve it, why do you, as a manager, routinely deny your frontline employees the authority to fix the problems that prevent them from doing their best work?
Answer: You shouldn’t deny your employees that authority; it’s a mistake to do so. In fact, on a deeper level, it’s not even yours to deny.
Q#6: Where does your authority come from anyway? What makes you the boss?
Answer: Actually, you’re not the boss. Your employees are.
So there you have it – tally up your score and see how you did.
Questions, observations, criticisms, or rebuttals? Please post them in the “Comments” section below.
Otherwise, commit these answers to memory. That way, the next time somebody asks you one of these 6 (and ½) questions about managing you can respond without hesitation…and no one will ever again doubt your capacity to manage, and manage well.
But wait – much of this still doesn’t make sense to you, you say?
Well then, keep following my blog…