Jul 16, 2010

The Perils of Management

Some lessons learned from recent events:

General Stanley McChrystal - no matter how good you are and how lauded you are, don't forget you are not the boss!

Kevin Rudd  - what works at the beginning doesn't work forever. Don't get so caught up in your own momentum you don't notice things changing around you.
Also, stay friendly with your colleagues.

Malcolm Turnbull  - Doesn't matter how successful you are at everything else you've done, you can't beat politicians at the politics. It's nothing to do with being smart or right.

Melbourne Storm  -  There are good reasons for all those annoying rules. Always do the right thing, even if you're swimming in a culture that doesn't. Eventually, it will - and then things will not be pretty.

Goldman Sachs / Lehman Brothers  - See above.

Previous Greek governments  - Don't ignore that too-hard basket. See above.

BP  - thanks for pointing out the truth about business continuity plans!
But seriously, when copy-pasting BCP templates from region to region, remember to delete the walruses.

Christine Nixon  - Tough luck. During normal business you're a star if you delegate and have a strong team underneath you. But when a crisis hits, you're expected to don the hard hat and direct detailed operations down the mineshaft. Never mind the two modes of working are not compatible within the one person. A factory foreman can't run a multinational and a CEO can't run the factory floor - but the CEO is expected to be able to do both.

Hence the real reason for the astronomical CEO salaries these days. Yes they are entirely out of proportion with what the individual is worth or brings to the company. But they are a direct result of the expectations people have of company leaders these days. No one can meet these forever - getting blamed and getting fired has become a certainty in business and in politics. The more senior you are the more you need that paypacket, because it is basically an insurance policy against the inevitable.

So many paths to ruin, but not many templates for success!

Jul 15, 2010

Ambition or Pride or whatever else gets in the way

I don't think of myself as ambitious. I've never wanted to be the CEO, or even a very senior manager. But whatever job I'm doing, I always want to do well. More than well. I want to be impressive and have others look to me with awe and respect and gratitude for the wonderful work that I do. I want to be sought out for opinions and correct process, esteemed for my knowlege and liked and respected for my ability with staff and customers and projects and getting things done. I can't help it. I can't switch it off. And I don't know whether it's pride or ambition or work eithic or just plain fear and insecurity (hello again you two...).

I hate the thought that someone at work might be less than pleased with the way I have handled something; get anxious when I feel things turning out less than ideally through a combination of rush, resourcing shortcuts, systemic complexity, corporate bureaucratic madness or some other not-my-fault insanity. It's important to me to do a job well and to be seen to do a job well.

So lucky me - I don't have enough of whatever-this-is to propel me into senior jobs with more money - just enough to keep me anxious and competitive and hamstring my efforts to scale back and achieve some modicum of "work life balance".

Exhibit A. Since I started at my company, my workload has been insane. Since making "Vice President" (whoo-hoo) my workload has been insane AND bonus! carries ten times the responsibility and visibility along with it (and thank you GFC, no real increase in salary). So recently this all came to a head with my boss and I having something of a showdown which was not only cathartic but beneficial - because in the following days, she re-arranged workloads, scaled back demands and created a restructure to balance the work more fairly across the management team. All this is good right? And it's what I wanted and needed. AND YET! As she's talking through all this and going out of her way to involve me and ensure I'm OK with it, some words start coming out of my mouth. I'm concerned what this means for my position, my staff numbers are smaller than the other managers, am I still responsible for the same areas, blah blah blah blah what?! Even as I'm talking, I am listening to myself and thinking, What are you doing?! shut up you idiot!

Is this normal or stupid or both?!

Consolations of Working in the City

Walking in from Richmond Station on a cold winter morning.
The approach to Batman avenue over William Barak Bridge.
Simultaneously listening to the World Cup result over my radio headphones and the operatic music drifting up from the speakers over Flinders Street Station below (to ward off violence!)
Unfortunately while lugging my backpack full of work shoes, work clothes, work makeup and water bottle, I pulled a muscle in my neck and have been popping pain killers all week since. Other than that, it was a nice way to start the week.


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