Dealing With Jerks
Every organization with more than five managers has at least one manager who is a jerk. Every organization that has more than ten people has at least one employee who is a jerk. Most jerks don’t recognize who they are, but they can be very disruptive (and not in a good way). But remember that you may too easily label someone a jerk who is disgruntled for good reason. Meet them head-on: Learn the source of their anger and, if possible, do something about it. Recovering jerks can actually become your strongest allies. And, incidentally, if you are in a meeting with four other managers and don’t recognize the jerk at the table, maybe it’s time for a little selfexamination.
Resilience and Adaptability
You can expect the unexpected. Things will happen every day that will surprise and amuse or annoy you. Some “crisis” thing will happen every week that will distress or alarm you. Both you and your organization must be ready to face the unexpected and respond effectively. You can build that capacity – but not through rational planning, because you can’t plan for surprises. Boxer Joe Louis said, “Everyone has a plan – until you get hit!” But the more you deal with uncertainty and ambiguity and adaptability in small doses from day to day, the better you will be able to deal with the bigger crisis when it hits. Through experience, you can build a capacity for resilience, both personally and organizationally. Combine resilience with an adaptive management style and you’ll be in good shape when the unexpected shows up to try to ruin your day.
Make Change Work for You
We used to think of change as a hiccup in the normal state of stability. Now stability is a hiccup in the normal state of change. To succeed in this new environment you must make adjustments. First, you must learn to be accepting of change. Life is change. Management is change. Get used to it. Second, you must be able to go with the flow of change, then move it in line with your intent. Don’t let change throw you off your game. Learn to embrace change as an opportunity, then capitalize on this opportunity. Think carefully about how to make change work for you. Change will happen. Whether it helps or hurts is up to you. Finally, by yourself, you can only nudge change in the right direction. But if you involve lots of people in the change process, the nudge can turn into a real push.
Learning in the New World
It’s a new world. Hierarchy is a relic. Topdown is history. The word “boss” is an anachronism. In the new management, the old skills of structure, control, and rational planning just won’t work. The management capabilities of the coming decades will include flexibility, adaptability, agility, resilience, negotiation, compromise, conflict resolution, and collaboration. Look for ways to learn these capabilities. You must engage in constant education and reeducation. But choose carefully. Don’t settle for books or educational programs that teach the same old thing. Demand more and make sure you get it.