Absurd!: Giving Up Management Techniques

by Ron Potter

photo-1454023989775-79520f04322cI’m continuing my series on an in-depth look at a wonderful little book that’s twenty years old this year.  The title is Management of the Absurd by Richard Farson.  You may want to consider dropping back and reading the previous blogs about ABSURD!  I think it will put each new one in great context.

Chapter 4 is titled: “Once You Find a Management Technique that Works, Give it Up”.

Farson states “The most obvious reason is that any management technique loses its power when it becomes evident that it is a technique.”

Technique is not a bad thing in and of itself.  One definition states “a skillful or efficient way of doing or achieving something.”  We actually spend most of our lives and certainly most of our business lives figuring out skillful and efficient ways of doing things.  And, for the most part, we get paid and promoted for getting even more skillful and efficient at doing things over time.  But note that it’s about doing things.

You might remember from our last blog that we need to relate to each other as Human Beings, not Human Doings.  Getting skillful and efficient at doing things is evaluated differently than being skillful and efficient at “doing” human beings.  Human beings require empathy, trust and patience and that will vary with each person.  Farson says “It is the ability to meet each situation armed not with a battery of techniques but with openness that permits a genuine response.”  Genuine response is the key.  People immediately notice if you’re using a technique on them vs being genuine.  People know!

Reciprocity Rule.  As stated by Farson:

One of the most useful ideas to remember is what we might call the “reciprocity rule” of human behavior: that over time, people come to share, reciprocally, similar attitudes toward each other.

That is, if I have a low opinion of you, then while you may for a time hold a high opinion of me, it is unlikely that your high opinion will persist.  Eventually you will come to feel about me the way I feel about you.

We believe we can acquire techniques that will hide our true feelings about people and enable us to convey an image of ourselves which they will respect, even though we do not respect them.  (Sounds like politicians to me)

Ultimately, people discover who we are and come to regard us as we regard them.  If we genuinely respect our colleagues and employees, those feelings will be communicated without the need for artifice or technique.  And they will be reciprocated.

Sounds a lot like something referred to as the Golden Rule.  Do onto others…..

Being a leader is being genuine.  There’s an old line that says “The key is sincerity.  Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”  Guess what, you can’t fake it.  If you want to lead people you must be genuine.  You must look on them as human beings’ worthy of respect.  It’s the only thing that creates leaders that people want to follow.

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