Wednesday, September 1, 2010

HBR - Boss As Human Shield

From the Sep 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review comes this article on bosses - the good ones at least: Managing Yourself: The Boss as Human Shield - Harvard Business Review
    And two blog posts Prof Sutton has written on his HBR article:
    These are related to Prof Sutton's latest book, on bosses, Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best... and Learn from the Worst, which follows his previous book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't - and that turned out to be a monster hit, despite or maybe partly because of its title.

    The article's core idea is that good bosses act as "human shields", protecting their workers from crap from both within and outside the company. There are seven ways in which good bosses can act as shields.
    Some of them: start and end meetings on time. "You may miss the thrill of petty power displays, but you will earn more prestige by leading productive and grateful followers."
    Encourage constructive conflict.
    Save time for your employees by doing the useless meetings that would otherwise suck up your employees' time.
    Some controversial suggestions are "Malicious Compliance" and to a lesser extent, "Creative Incompetence". Be careful with these.
    If your job requires you to talk to customers or clients, then note that "Good bosses also protect their people
    from demeaning, overly demanding, and frustrating clients and customers.

    William Coyne, who headed R&D at 3M for over a decade, had this advice to offer on why interference into researchers' tasks was not a good idea, “After you plant a seed in the ground, you don’t dig it up every week to see how it is doing.”.
    And the most important in my book - "Take the heat."