Apricot Jeans and Dice Games

October 4, 2011

Living in Italy has taught me that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the next. Clothes, for example – Most of my Italian friends would look good in a shell suit. Whereas I’d manage to make an Armani suit look scruffy.

Smiles, are another thing. You’d think they’d work for everybody – and then you come across a picture of Gordon Brown – and well, no, you realize that they don’t always work, do they?

Oh – and team-building games. I’m amazed that people actually seem to enjoy them –how you could possibly create a bond with someone who’s  just sellotaped themselves to a beach ball is beyond me. Personally, I’d rather watch the entire series of Sister Act films than do any kind of team-building…mmm, on second thoughts – pass me that masking tape…

I’ve just started reading StandOut by Marcus Buckingham and I’ve been reminded that what’s true of apricot-coloured jeans is also true of management techniques. One style does not fit all.

In the book Marcus shares the story of a manager who turned a failing store round when he gave ‘everyone a whistle and told them to blow the whistle whenever they saw anyone do anything good.’ Can you imagine? However, the store went from the bottom to the top of the performance tables. Marcus makes the astute point that this doesn’t mean that we should all rush out and get the whistles in. Heaven forbid. The whistle was an important factor – but equally important was the personality of the manager himself. In the hands of another that motivating whistle could quickly become an instrument of torture.

I like to think of my management style as not-necessarily-too-organised-pretty-relaxed-bordering-on-the-David-Brent-let’s-cross-our-fingers-and-see-what-happens approach to getting things done. I’ve come to realize that not everyone rolls that way.

My great hero, football manager Alex Ferguson, achieves a lot through the effective use of anger. I’ve tried this – and failed miserably. People laugh. I go a bit red, can’t get my words out, and generally look as if I’m about to start crying. People point. And they laugh.

Equally, I can’t see Alex Ferguson playing dice games with Ryan Giggs to see ‘who gets the coffees in’ – but I think that particular game is one of my most effective management tools.

If you’re not authentic, people are going to see through you. It’s great to look around and see what management tips you can steal – but if it doesn’t fit, don’t force it.

For more on StandOut visit http://standout.tmbc.com/gui/

One Response to “Apricot Jeans and Dice Games”

  1. Maria Says:

    I agree. However, i’ve never seen anyone that looks good in Apricot Jeans… Jagger does look good wearing a pink suit though 🙂 🙂


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