Any engineer aspiring to join the ranks of managers
can learn from the observations of Michael Paris, president
of MPA Ltd, Oak Brook, IL. The manufacturing consultant
has seen more than his share of top corporate executives
get the ax, some deservedly, some not. Here were some
of the traits he saw in those who had it coming, with
some added insights of our own:
The four-walls syndrome. Executives suffering
from this malady assume that if their subordinates
don't tell them about problems, there aren't any.
They don't think to look for themselves. Of course,
there's a fine line here. Executives should be able
to expect subordinates to find and solve problems
for themselves, bringing only the most untractable
to the boss. If the subordinates are always bringing
problems upstairs, that's a whole other kind of
"Don't bring me bad news." Some
executives make it hard for subordinates to raise
difficult issues. They fly off the handle. They
immediately assess blame. They refuse to accept
that there could be a problem. They take over the
solution. Encourage dialogue, be open minded, and
let subordinates take the first crack at solving
Listening, but not hearing. This one is
for the subordinates. Executives state their objectives
and assign responsibilities, then fail to monitor
progress. Meanwhile, subordinates misinterpret or
outright ignore directions.
"You wouldn't understand." Don't
accept jive that a situation is too complex to explain.
Be careful what you measure. The wrong benchmarks
can lead to bad decisions.
Mistaking activity for results. Having lots
of programs is great--until they become ends unto
themselves rather than means to an end.
Mistaking good fortune for good management.
Was your decision really inspired? Or, were
you in the right place at the right time?
Saving yourself out of business. Cost effectiveness,
yes. Nickel and dimming, no. Sometimes you have
to spend money, like on new tools and equipment.
What do you want to be? Have a vision, stick
with it, and communicate it.
Recognize any of these traits? Did Paris leave out
any? Tell us your own observations.
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