Tag Archives: Leadership

S Venkateshwaran On Dysfunctional Organization Cultures And Falling Corporate Empires

ganesh article on Culture

A reader of Mission Sharing Knowledge S Venkateshwaran had this to say on one of our previous articles. Since we thought the comment to be really relevant, we have published it in its entirety. 

Dysfunctionality tends to occur in those organization more often than not, where the Boss is either a self made person who thinks that he / she knows how to run the business, or has an aggressive approach to business more out of the need to over achieve. I have worked in an organization where the Boss was so stern that he would keep pushing people in all directions. Every day would start off with meetings in which all the heads had to participate.

This would go on for an hour (discussing the activities of the previous night in terms of production targets etc.), followed usually by two or three in depth meeting with selected departments and finally followed by end of day meeting to review what was supposed to be done in the day. At the end of it all, he would rave and rant because work did not happen. To ensure this, he would make all the Heads stay back late.

The irony was he wanted a strong HR team that would “fearlessly” tell him when he was wrong. Quite obviously, when that happened, the poor guy was out of work the next week. Highly emotional, and rigid, the person would shower abuses which would put a rickshaw driver to shame.

The only group of people who were able to work with him, were, not surprisingly, those who could flatter and live up as his ego alters, who also used the same technique of imposing themselves on the poor “lower the line” persons. Not surprisingly, attrition was very high; but this did not affect him, even though others in the company knew the reality but choose to keep quiet.

Based on my observations, some of the traits of a dysfunctional Manager I would think are:

Tells you to do something you don’t want to do, but blames you when it goes wrong.
Says He / She wants you to take responsibility, and then publicly overrides your decisions.
Loves to be in front when there is a big audience otherwise will send sub juniors to attend a customer.
Intimidates with aggressive words and posture, knowing that you will never confront but becomes a pacifier when confronted. .
Handles meetings as though he is the only speaker.
Revels in the invention of creative curses for just the right occasion.
Verbally approves new requisitions, later denies doing it.
Gets too personal in his berating.
Ride you mercilessly while pet employees can do no wrong.
Always right: when confronted with mistakes, blames them on someone else.
Fiercely protective of pet projects.
Highly compulsive and obsessive about minute details.
Displays a good understanding of the “Good Cop” and “Bad Cop” routines and generally practices it.

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How to Make Your Boss Love You – Part 1

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“My boss is a nice person, but for some strange reasons he does not like me…or so I think…not sure!”

“Guess my boss was a Hitler in his previous life!”

“I don’t know what she expects from me. She cracks cheap jokes all day long…of course, according to her it’s not cheap…but I find them quite distasteful!”

How many of you connect to these sentiments? Assuming that most of you will, let’s try and unravel a few traits of managers and ways of appealing to particular types!

The Bully

BossDo you get frequent mails from your boss, threatening you to complete a particular work on time, or else…? Did you make a killer presentation, which had a punctuation error on the twelfth slide and for which you were reprimanded by your boss? Is he always trying to intimidate you into performing your task? If your answer to all this is yes, then your boss is a sure-shot bully!

How to deal – Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple way of dealing with this kind of people. All you can do is project yourself as a reasonable person. Put your foot down whenever you feel he has crossed the line. Your boss might respect you when you stand up for yourself because, in a way, you are speaking his language.

The Manipulator

manipulative-bossThis type of people will never explain their requirement clearly to you. Instead, they will drop hints and expect you to find your way out. Such qualities in managers generally surface in case of great power difference. You can recognize your boss as being manipulative if he sends you running off with tasks to multiple directions. Initially, you might feel good about being given the responsibility to accomplish numerous tasks. However, you have to keep evaluating your goals. If you feel that the tasks are not helping you accomplish the career goals you have set for yourself, you have to speak up.

How to deal – Talk to your boss privately about your career goals. Tell him about what you aim to achieve, but you have to remember to make your boss look good in the process. Hurting his ego will not do you any good. With some patience and skill you will manage the manipulator.

The Liar

liar1-e1334603938595Has your boss promised you promotion after you complete a hellish project? Have you completed several such difficult projects without any promotions in the horizon? If yes, then you must accept it that your boss is a liar and that he is trying to extract as much work from you as possible, free of cost!

How to deal – While you have to keep your interests in mind, you cannot afford to get into the bad books of your manager. The best way of dealing with such a personality is by getting things in writing. May be you can start a chain mail and keep your upper management in the loop. A chain mail will be your best defense against false promises.

Are You a Good Boss or a Bad One?

Gurulakshmi Iyer- Hait strongly believes that employees don’t leave jobs, they leave their managers! To this end, she delves a little into the quality that makes a person a good boss or a bad one. 

Conflict

If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
Bill Gates

bill-gates“Boss Calling” flashes on our cells and we jump out of our seats to answer the call. None of us are leading an absolutely free life – either we manage others or we are being managed by others. Simply put, either we boss around or are being bossed by someone else. Since subordinates mimic every move of their bosses, it is very important for managers to keep this in mind. Their work profile includes not only to projection of power but also setting a particular path for their subordinates to follow.

Do Bosses and Their Behavior Matter?

According to a study, the average boss adds about 1.75 times as much output as the average worker. The culture of any organization percolates from its top management. The style of leadership followed in an organization starts from the CEO’s office. The ripple effect of the leader’s style either helps in bolstering or undermining the cultures and performance levels.

A few years back, I had attended a Culture Building Programme. One of the exercises in the Programme involved collecting feedback of co-workers. Surprisingly, 65% of the feedback offered was for managers! It’s then that I realized the Halo effect. Employees give prominence to certain trait in their bosses and the whole evaluation in the employees’ mind happen on the basis of that. Every move, every decision of a boss is mimicked and scrutinized on such trait and yes, bosses really do matter.

leadership-skillsThe best bosses work relentlessly and use their power to their advantage. They control the organizational performance by tuning in to the people. Bosses who fail to do so not only make their lives hell but also ruin the peace and happiness of their subordinates. Almost 90% of attrition is directly or indirectly because of lousy bosses. People adjust to any moods and moves, but not to impossible bosses.

James Meindl’s research on “the romance of leadership” shows that the leaders get far more credit and blame than they deserve. If you are a leader in your organization, this is a part and parcel of your life.

If as a boss, you aren’t able to present negative feedback as constructive criticism, you are bound to spoil the morale of your subordinates and ruin their desire to work with you. At the end of the day, it’s your work that will suffer!

“Know how to project power, since those you lead need to believe you”.

Bob Sutton,Stanford Management Professor

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