Book – Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best… and Learn from the Worst

good-boss-bad-bossVery insightful book.  Beside general approach and perspective, the book also has many very specific and useful examples.  The main point of the book is difference that good management can do in employee’s well-being and company’s performance. Swedish study determined that employees who had good managers were healthier in general and had less heart attacks than employees who reported to a “bad boss.”

Harm of competition within the organization:

A group of engineers were responsible for generating innovative ideas.  The meetings were noisy, argumentative, and a number of innovative ideas were routinely generated.  the new manager decided to increase competition among the engineers and introduced an intensive for individuals.  Under the new brainstormrule, the individuals whose ideas were implemented received bonus for their individual contribution.  The atmosphere immediately changed.  The engineers stopped sharing their ideas and bounce them from each other.  Though they never cared before who was the author the idea listed on the board, now all ideas had a name attached to them. The number of ideas generated shrink dramatically.   After one brainstorming session where most of the time were spent on argument of who generated the idea between two engineers and a manager rather than the ideas themselves, the manager removed the individual incentive system.  The engineers were happy to see the change, and gradually, the number of ideas increased to the previous level.

The damage of forced ranking system (rank and yank) could be somewhat reduced if cooperation with others is included into the requirement of good performance.

Managing more knowledgeable employees:

In many situation of modern workplace, a manager has a team of employees who are more knowledgeable than the boos in the areas of their expertise.  (Ha ha – this is my permanent situation 🙂  ).  The manager should learn and delegate, and be very careful with decisions.

Medtronic CEO, who came from a different industry, spent first 9 months on the job learning the products, talking with customers, etc. Even after that period of learning, he deferred the decisions to specialists.  The company grew significantly during the CEO’s tenure.

Employee appreciation:

happy-employeeOne university dean had to deal routinely with faculty members requesting more money and threatening to move to another school.  The dean developed an effective approach to the situation: he would start from explaining how much the faculty member was valued by the school and respected by colleagues before considering the money questions.  In most situations the money was not that important.

Communicating bad news:

Any bad news need to be communicated with understanding and compassion.  One fired executive happily hired an HR management that handled the firing as an HR head of his new company.

Clear communication is necessary – stating that no layoffs are coming in the next 6 months, or even three months, is a significant relief for nervous employees,  as they can relax during that period of time and be more productive.

interruptionThe danger of interruptions:

It takes a knowledge worker 25 minutes to recover from an interruption. Manager’s job is to shield the team from interruptions to allow the team to be more productive and relaxed.

Chapter-by-chapter book review – an excellent source.


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