Written by Rob
Folk speak of watershed, a turning point, epoch, or pivotal moments. Of course, I understand that all of these could apply, but I think they are descriptions to “grab the headlines”. Viewed from my side, the events and trends that came before, made the moment inevitable, and everything that came after “business as usual”.
People like to moan. And there is little people like to moan about more than “the boss”. Derek Peterson’s staff had more excuse for moaning than most. He was moody, ill-tempered, badly organised, erratic, unsympathetic, aggressive and, not surprisingly, a piss-poor manager. But moaning, much as we like to do it, is wasted effort. If you want change, you need to make change. Moaning doesn’t make change.
Decide what you want, find your allies and understand them; recognise your enemies and understand them too; recognise what you can and can’t influence; take a conservative view of your effectiveness; make a plan and stick to it. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; it’s not where you start but where you finish that matters; a drip of water will reduce a mountain to sand eventually.
The good news was that Derek’s peers didn’t like him much either. Asking around, probing and prompting, I found thinly veiled resentment amongst the management team of Derek’s access to the M.D., Jeremy Argyle. Just why Jeremy thought so highly of Derek was not only unclear to me but also to his peers in the management team. So potentially, all the managers were my allies. Derek’s relationship with Jeremy was both his strength and his weak spot: break that and he would be lost.
Derek had long been a champion of shot blasting. As business development manager, he liked to boast in all company literature that every piece of steel that left our factory had been thoroughly shot blasted before painting. He was right: it was a quality feature, and our finished cranes always looked better than our competitors’. But it also added to our costs, which made the sales manager’s task more difficult in winning work at a reasonable profit margin, and the production manager’s life more fraught, as shot blasting is very time-consuming. The quality manager didn’t like all the extra paperwork generated by every piece of steel needing a certificate. The plant manager didn’t like trying to keep our shot blast machine operational 24 x 7 x 52. Naturally, the finance manager didn’t like the cost. Maybe, I thought, just maybe, this is the issue that could be used to scupper Derek. But how to get Jeremy to both share the opinion of his managers and blame Derek for its adoption?
So I set about a system of sabotage. Continue reading →