Classic: Corporate Inefficiency, Groupthink

trictly speaking, Groupthink is the unwillingness or inability to challenge the thinking of the group.  It tends to narrow down intellectual exploration of an issue/problem and limits the available options.  And while there can be some advantages to Groupthink in speed of decision making and the ability to marshal people behind an accepted plan of attack, it is likely to lead to blind spots and sometimes even fatal errors.

Classic: Corporate Inefficiency, Sunk Costs

Stopping a project in mid-execution is tantamount to confessing to imperfect management ability.  In most large corporations that comes with a steep political price tag -- at the least a loss of confidence, at the worst the loss of a job.  If an employee admits to an error, they are likely to be punished.  And the more the organization focuses on finding the guilty (and trust me, they all do, at least to a degree) the bigger the stakes become.

Great Boss: Career Management

As human beings, we seem extraordinarily adept at self-deception.  We can quickly find the “fatal flaw” in a peer – the thing that is preventing him from being promoted – but we rarely see our own.  In fact, even when someone hints around at our biggest weaknesses, most of us find a way to rationalize away the feedback.  It seems that only through direct confrontation do we really get a glimpse at our biggest shortcomings.

Classic: Corporate Inefficiency

Four years ago I read an interesting article passed along by a friend, one which discussed why large corporations – despite their advantages – often fall victim to smaller upstarts with limited resources.  The author, Luke Johnson, a UK private equity firm president and entrepreneur, makes a number of excellent observations with which I personally agree, having seen all of them in action in big corporations in one form or another.  In fact, one of my old bosses used to describe these things as “Aenergies,” at least when he was referring to the merging of a large acquisition into the “mother ship.”  I think the term applies to “bigness” in general quite nicely.

Great Boss: Sharing the Trenches

Of all the characteristics my best boss showed, his willingness to collaborate on important work, rather than criticize while stepping back, was one of the most important in making our relationship work.  While the standard in business might be a boss that casts employees into the void, forcing them to succeed or fail on their own, a boss that lives with you in the trenches is worth her weight in gold.

Classic: Behaviors Managers Hate, Suggesters

The problem with the “Suggester,” is that all she typically offers are ideas.  The “Suggester” invariably stops at that point, leaving the remaining 99% of the work of implementation to someone else – normally management.  The “Suggester” doesn’t normally rest with this, however, instead she goes on to blame management when her idea (which is often unworkable, impractical, or downright dumb) isn’t immediately implemented, and/or doesn’t transform the business.

Classic: Behaviors Managers Hate, Hiding

Hiders hide things from their boss (typically, bad news,) for a variety of reasons.

It's pretty clear what's going through the head of a "Hider" when he engages in such behavior – he is afraid.  Afraid of being blamed for that project headed for the ditch.  Afraid of the damage getting tagged with a failed effort will do to his reputation.  Afraid of taking responsibility.  Afraid of admitting the truth.

Great Boss: The Big Picture

Over the two years we worked closely together, we spent quite a bit of time talking about multiple aspects of the company’s “the big picture.”  During these discussions, I learned how our business strategy was designed to foil a key strength of a particularly difficult-to-dislodge competitor, I grasped what absolutely needed to happen to personally succeed at the company, and I learned about a number of potential pitfalls that could undermine a career – both there and in the corporate world, at large.

Great Boss: Explaining Things

In contrast to issuing orders or exhibiting benign neglect, my great boss was involved but not directive.  This was a touch that was undoubtedly challenging to achieve – offering advice, insight, rationale, but still leaving me room to develop my own approach.  Most of the time he was able to get this complex equation just right, allowing me to do some of my most effective work and achieving more than I ever had while enjoying my job immensely.

Classic: Behaviors Managers Hate, Performance Cluelessness

When a manager actually attempts to explain to the clueless employee “how it really is,” the employee usually gets defensive, complains, becomes angry, argues, or simply blames everything on the manager’s “incompetence.”  Once a difficult performance discussion is finished, a good portion of clueless employees run back to their co-workers looking for affirmation of their “superior” performance.  Coworkers, also wanting to maintain relationships and avoid conflict, usually take the easy path and simply agree with their clueless peer.

Classic: Behaviors Managers Hate, Entitled

It is often difficult to grasp how one’s contribution fits into the big scheme of things.  And as conscious creatures, we are intimately familiar with the blood, sweat, and tears we pour into to our jobs, while at the same time only having a superficial understanding of similar efforts exerted by others.  It is a problem of perspective that is difficult to objectively overcome.