Sunday, December 16, 2007

Go back to your zombies and prepare for management

This year, with the retirement of a long established colleague I have taken on new responsibilities and I now have a team of people who I manage.

With this in mind, my boss thought I would benefit from attending a two day management of course. I've been on similar before but I suppose it can never hurt to have some new ideas and reminders of how to deal with certain situations.

The course was taken by a charming lady from Fulham. At the risk of offending many people, my office has a lot of people from Essex and a lot of people from south London (myself included). In short I don't often hear the English language spoken as well as it is spoken by some residents of Fulham. But I guess accents is a very risky topic, especially in Britain, so I shall move swiftly on !

The course was not rocket science. In fact it was not any sort of science but a mixture of common sense on how to deal with difficult people in difficult situations as well as various management and psychological theories on what motivates people and how to get the best out of them etc etc.

One session that caught my imagination was a crude classification of all people according to their energy or action and their attitude or enthusiasm.

Those with high action and a good attitude were obviously the best from a management perspective and were called "stars". The high action but negative attitude were "cynics" albeit quite productive ones. Those of positive attitude but little action were either "passengers" or "tourists" while the worst were those of little action and a bad attitude. The last group were termed "zombies" or "the undead".

This was supposed to be a serious management course but predictably this bit wasn't taken too seriously. We were divided up into teams to talk about how we would deal with the different employee types.

I was put in a group that was charged with thinking about "zombies". We found this quite difficult as apart from sacking them which would probably happen in more hard hearted organisations, one would have to analysise their entire personality and try and appeal to something that made them tick to achieve any progress.

We then had to present our thoughts. Our zombie group started.

"Now do any you manage people who might be zombies ?" asked the charming lady from Fulham. I must admit that my hand wavered but I thought "No the worst I have must have are tourists, positive but of little output" (I should also note that I do have star (s)".

A colleague from IT had no such qualms. Up went his hand. "I've probably got two" he said. His total team is eight strong so that makes a 25% strong zombie contingent !

The course went on over 2 days with role plays, discussions and coffee breaks.

At the end we were all wished well. I guess in at least one case this really did amount to "Go back to your zombies and prepare for management"

I will be giving my team a bit more thought next week !!!

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