Give managers a break

I have spent my whole career helping managers of different shapes and sizes to manage people better.  I have also been a manager myself so it hasn’t just been ‘do as I say’ stuff.  Most managers I worked with were what I’d describe as reluctant managers – and this includes me.  They were reluctant because, in order to progress, there had come a point in their career where they had to stop doing whatever they were good at and start [...]

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A manager who was hooked on brainstorming

Miles was a section manager in a large design agency.  He was in his thirties, with an unkempt beard and given to wearing corduroy trousers. He had a degree in graphics and design and was a gifted cartoonist.  The agency created advertising campaigns, advised on corporate logos and designed catalogues and brochures for a number of blue-chip companies.  The ethos of the place was right-brained, informal and emphatically ‘can do’.  Miles was a great fan of intuitive processes and lateral [...]

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Musts and wants

Some years ago I was invited to join in a think-tank, organised by the Cabinet Office, to generate ideas on what the government could do to motivate more people to embrace lifelong learning.  It seems that far too many people treat learning and development as an optional extra.  This despite all the messages about learning being the core capability; the only skill that can never become obsolete; the gateway to employability and fulfilment; the only way to sustain a competitive [...]

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A manager who sampled 360 degree feedback

Ben was a middle manager in the purchasing department of a company that manufactured tyres for the motor industry.  He worked in a large, draughty Victorian building that, despite refurbishment, still showed its age. The purchasing office was tucked away in one wing of the building along with other administrative functions.  The bulk of the site, however, was given over to tyre manufacture – a dirty process. The manufacturing areas looked as if they belonged to another epoch.  There were [...]

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A manager who insisted on precise definitions

Nick was a human relations manager in a large telecommunications business.  He had many years’ experience of HR, having worked in a diverse range of industries from car manufacture to food processing to computers. Nick a man of average build who looked remarkably like 1960s prime minister Harold Wilson without the pipe.  He was fond of pontificating and could produce an instant opinion on, well, anything!  Over the years, Nick had formed strong views about many issues, particularly about the [...]

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Recent Anecdotes

So far as other people are concerned, you are your behaviour