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inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #26 of 103: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Thu 1 Jun 06 15:47
    
That's a good question.

And the answer is, well, in the end I must admit no. When I was
younger I believed everyone had some bit of will in them to do their
jobs to the best of their ability, to improve, to work from passion,
but my management experience over time suggests this isn't true. Oh,
it's true for many people, perhaps even most, but not all. Those it's
not true for, those are the purely mediocre, I think. They can get by,
and on their very best days they can... get by.

At the corporation where I had the most frustration in this regard I
had inherited a staff of employees who had been at the company for a
long time and who had gotten by perfectly well by being perfectly
mediocre. In fact, and in their defense, there was little or no
incentive to improve. Salary increases were pegged to an annual review
score, but the difference between outstanding and adequate was about
three percent. Moreover, the score was fairly subjective. It was a
lousy review form and a lousy system.

This company was located in a fairly rural situation, and rather than
try to attract good, creative employees, it tended to hire whoever was
available locally. The result was a lot of what you call "human
plaque" (good term, that) -- people who were there for the job, not the
career. 

Hiring right in the first place, whether it's in the corporate world
or for a baseball team, is an irreplaceable and critical first step to
creating a winning organization. Man oh man did I learn that lesson! 
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #27 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Thu 1 Jun 06 16:19
    
I'm more optimistic than you are about this IN GENERAL. Org.s can
achieve entropy, I won't deny it, but I choose to not allow that in as
a thought/fear until I've exhausted everyhting in my toolbox and
others', too. I always counsel good managers I work with to get out of
unhealthy companies that don't allow them to have an effect.

I would need to work inside for at least two days to make a call on
that old employer, but based on the description you passed on here, I'd
start with two initiatives: measurement and fun (both general fun and
elite-employee fun). This sounds like a very immature environment, and
they might respond to junior-high level management. If you've read the
work of Lawrence Kohlberg or Carol Gilligan, you might be familiar with
the structuralist view of knowledge. They indicate you can completely
miss the attempted communciation if your message is too far beyond the
experience of the listener. So starting relatively low in the maturity
level (in the hopes of making a connection you can use to squeeze them
up the scale later) is a useful approach.

1) Set up some measures of quality/quantity, and post them for each
employee and the team as a whole. They should be fairly obvious,
something that allows for one person busting their butt to make a
visible difference. They should be displayed in a giant way, like those
United Way thermometer indicators corporations display. Ideally
(circumstances and common sense permitting)  you should update the
display daily before people get to work so when people arrive they have
a new anchor for starting their day; their first impression is they're
being paid attention. Spend five minutes at the end of the last day of
the workweek doing a quick review that includes appropriate praise and
corection. If praise is hard to come by, *at this stage* it's
important to find some anyway. You are resetting their inert, static
view of the org and the way things are done. Do it with a smile, but be
insistent this will continue. People who leave because this is
happening may be existential nihilists, but far more likely, they are
accountability sluffers afriad of being outed, and you're well rid of
them.

2) Plan some fun. Probably not Twister. Maybe a kid's little bowling
game. I once bought a pinball machine that took tokens I kept on hand.
But let it be known this was available at breaks. I would take everyone
to a cheap lunch on me (Fridays are best -- lowest productivity day of
the week) with only a day's notice. And let people know there's more
fun on the way. Good suggestions to be found in Mike Veeck's book, "Fun
is Good". The key thing here is you're reinforcing their inert, static
view of how things are done.

3) Figure out something big that would be fun (for the performers in
the group). Big doesn't mean expensive. At about three or four weeks,
announce the high performer(s) on your measure are getting this award
and that it comes with <the fun thang>. Don't announce it more than a
few days in advance, preferably on a Monday morning. The senak attack
award is far more effective, because it wasn't foreseen. It basically
means sandbaggers can't just cherry-pick kinds of work or times to
work.

4) Keep things in flux as far as your own managers allow you to. If
they won't let you change the joint and are determined to stick with
mediocrity, it's time to find other work. Seriously. There are enough
megatonnes of social manure in the world that you don't need to
marinate in theirs any longer. Flux means processes, experiments with
procedures...not moving desks or aving a typical "re-org". Real stuff
you think might make a positive difference.

5) Get your fingers into the hiring process. Make sure people are
trainable or already qualified (or both), and that people get auditions
before they get hired. Whatever it is, an audition is possible. But
have a say in who is going to replace the people who will leave because
they can't cope with fun or measurement.

This won't always work. If, as I suspect, the org is immature, I know
based on experience that this has a better than even chance of working.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #28 of 103: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Thu 1 Jun 06 17:16
    
Those ideas sound good. The key thing, though, is that top management
has to buy into the improvement plan and support it tangibly. And for
that to happen, top management has to admit it has managed poorly in
the past. That's often very difficult for ego-enlarged executives to
admit.

This was a publishing company (excuse me: "media company," as they
reminded me often, though there was little clue as to what was actually
meant by "media"). The CEO, who belonged to the owning family, spelled
poorly and didn't know how to use an apostrophe. His father, the
previous CEO, never learned to type. Employees under such executives as
these learn quickly that the top of the organization doesn't pay
attention to or really care about quality. 
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #29 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Thu 1 Jun 06 18:47
    
Steve Bjerklie said:
Employees under such executives as
these learn quickly that the top of the organization doesn't pay
attention to or really care about quality. 
++++++++++

These are important details. 

I believe some companies, even like this brain wrecek, are rehab-able.
The real fork in the road is not can they be fixed or not, but are
they worth fixing? That is, would the community just be better off if
the place was gone?

If this is a small town newspaper and all the downtown merchants rely
on it, good or bad, for their survival, there's a community benefit to
its existence no matter how badly its run. That needs to be rolled into
the equation, I think. But based on what you've said here, I'd just
opt for walking. If they are determined not to be better it will kill a
little bit of you every day, because that world view is like
skin-eatin' bacteria.

There are some industries, publishing included, where the very lack of
measureable success & failure means the whole industry is the realm of
accountablity avoiders. It's always going to be harder to get
executive management in publishing to be accountable. Good editorial,
mediocre editorial and poor editorial are hard to account for in the
bottom line. You don't find this so much in, say, steel manufacturing
where the end product is quite measurable for quality and quantity. I
like to say "there's no Enron in baseball", but to that I add, "there's
no shortage of Enron in publishing".

I'll just say what you already know: You're probably well rid of them.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #30 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Thu 1 Jun 06 21:50
    

So when there is deadwood in an organization, and the organization is in a 
relatively thinly populated rural area like the one Steve was talking 
about, how do you adhere to the Al Lopez principle?

"Never give up on a player until you know who you're going to replace him 
with."

More importantly, how do you prevent a potentially good new hire from 
imbibing the existing culture of borderline adequacy?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #31 of 103: Valdemar Francisco Zialcita (dextly) Thu 1 Jun 06 22:26
    
On a related front, I wonder about the management of organizations
with missions unlike that of the contemporary major league model.  Is
the management of a minor league team, for example, sometimes more like
that of a non-profit, demanding different philosophies regarding
talent and success?  

I'm also curious about management in the earlier history of baseball,
back to where one could find case studies that speak to entrepreneur
theory.  Have you had the opportunity to examine the management of
"barnstorming" teams?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #32 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Thu 1 Jun 06 23:17
    
STEPHANIE SAID:
So when there is deadwood in an organization, and the organization is
in a relatively thinly populated rural area like the one Steve was
talking 
about, how do you adhere to the Al Lopez principle?

"Never give up on a player until you know who you're going to replace
him with."
++++++++++

Remember, there's a symmetry in most of these thinly populated rural
areas -- where there's a shortage of employees, there is also a
shortage of strong hiring organizations.

As a sweeping general rule, the basic work ethic is pretty good in
rural areas. Turnover is potentially low. One starts by recruiting
slowly...meeting individuals, learning about them, cultivating the
promising ones. There's nothing wrong with occasionally stealing
someone from another job if you think they can help.

How would you take advantage of low demand-low supply?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #33 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Thu 1 Jun 06 23:25
    
Stephanie said:
More importantly, how do you prevent a potentially good new hire from 
imbibing the existing culture of borderline adequacy?
++++++++

A tough kind of gravity to push against, but not impossible. 

In baseball, they tend to be proactive and get rid of the subset of
wind-drags who are working to infect others (not all the wind drags,
just the aggressively-so ones). Then they try to introduce a
counterbalancing infector, someone positive. Team chemistry is a bit
like haute cuisine French cooking, though -- sometimes souffle rises
and sometimes with the same recipe and care, it just falls like the the
1899 Cleveland Spiders
(http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL_1899.shtml). Tricky stuff
that one has no choice but to try.

In general, I'd start with a different compensation program for the
newbie and clear, direct information to her about how to be successful
with it. I'd set her/him up with facts right away -- that the general
personality at the shop needs changing and is dragging the org down and
part of what she's here for is to help turn that around. I'd say keep
the newbie segregated, at least for a little while, and work at
innoculating her/him against the inevitable wave of Droopy-Dogism.

Anyone else want to add some ideas?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #34 of 103: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Fri 2 Jun 06 09:16
    
Hire two rather than one new person. There is strength in numbers, and
one newbie can sort of innoculate the other against a company's
existing dumb-down culture.

Jeff wrote:
>>>But based on what you've said here, I'd just opt for walking. If
they are determined not to be better it will kill a little bit of you
every day, because that world view is like skin-eatin' bacteria.<<<

Opt for walking is just what I did, in fact, last September. Best
career decision of my life, though not in financial terms. But I don't
think anyone should take or keep a bad job (or even a good one, for
that matter) just for the money. Within a week of leaving all of my
friends and family noticed how much happier I was (and am) and how much
less stressed. 
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #35 of 103: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Fri 2 Jun 06 09:22
    
As a business journalist for 25 years and having written about dozens,
and perhaps hundreds, of companies, one thing I've seen over and over
again is that a corporation's personality, behavior and code is set at
the top. If you see a plant foreman screaming at some poor hourly-wage
worker, you can bet folding money that the CEO yells at his secretary
and shows little respect for his other subordinates. Employees behave
in the manner they think they've got permission to behave.

In the context of "Management By Baseball," is the same true of
major-league teams? I can think of a few where the General Manager's or
CEO's style seems to carry through the organization -- the Oakland
A's, for one, and perhaps the Twins for another. (Not true of the
Yankees, though; Joe Torre's style bears no resemblance to George
Steinbrenner's.) But are big-league teams largely different than the
corporate world in this respect or similar, Jeff? 
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #36 of 103: It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Fri 2 Jun 06 12:20
    
Hi there-- also a theatre practitioner, and also intrigued about the idea 
of using the metaphor of baseball as "the way" through which you can 
correct your ills.

I think that in the situations that I am often in in business, the strike 
zone is unclear, and I'm not sure if I'm hitting or pitching or fielding.

How do you decide which metaphor to use?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #37 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Fri 2 Jun 06 21:49
    

Unrelated question:

So you're an author with a new book out. When do you come to Portland and 
read at Powell's? Do you have any readings scheduled? be sure and mention 
them here so in case any of us are nearby we will be aware.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #38 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Fri 2 Jun 06 22:42
    
So you're an author with a new book out. When do you come to Portland
and read at Powell's? Do you have any readings scheduled? be sure and
mention them here so in case any of us are nearby we will be aware.
+++++

Powell's...never...funny story to follow.

But I WILL be in the SF Bay Area Monday June 19 at one of my two
favorite bookstores, Black Oak (in No. Berkeley, not the eccentric Live
Nude Girls branch {does anyone shop there? they must...the store stays
open}). 7:30 p.m.

Since there is a strong Bay Area contingent on The WELL, it'd be cool
for anyone wanting to meet to drop by and chat or browse, especially if
they've never been to this wonderful indie store.

I'm in SEATTLE
    June 29 -- Elliott Bay Book Co
    July 27 -- B&N U-Village
    August 25 -- B&N Downtown Seattle

For now, that's all I have scheduled.

POWELL'S
Last year, I had a small press book, "Management by Baseball -- A
Pocket Reader", a paperback blook the publisher and I distributed only
through indie bookstores. Because it didn't go through traditional
distribution, we discounted it at 50% off instead of 40% off, because
shops likely to order this book usually order through jobbers, and the
hope was that the extra 10% margin and not having to compete with
discounters would buffer the extra work.

   Gerry Donaghy, the smart fellow (no irony -- he's a smart fellow)
who is the buyer for small press books for Powell's took almost ten
weeks to decide Powells couldn't sell the book because they wouldn't
know whether to file it in baseball or management, that basically, it
was a subject that didn't fit the store.

If you've never been there, it's quite literally a city of books
closer to the Library at Alexandria than any other comparable. Without
rancor (hey, it's his store, not mine) I asked him where they put
Moneyball by Michael Lewis, and with perfect Jay Leno timing he came
back, "Best Sellers".  :->


But that was it. A smart guy and great judge of books told me it was
unsellable at Powell's. So I'm pretty confident they are boycotting the
book, and if I offered to do a reading there, I'm pretty confident I'd
be persona non recito.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #39 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Fri 2 Jun 06 22:45
    
Steve Bjerklie said:
Hire two rather than one new person. There is strength in numbers, and
one newbie can sort of innoculate the other against a company's
existing dumb-down culture.
++++++++++++

Very strong idea. And perhaps even lay off a contagious stiff to make
room for the newbie on the payroll, which should wake people up.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #40 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Sat 3 Jun 06 08:15
    
Staphanie said:
you talk about Jim Fregosi's misplaced loyalty to Mitch "Wild Thing" 
Williams. I was thinking about a couple of John McNamara's
questionable personnel decisions during the 1986 World Series -- Bob
Stanley, Bill Buckner, etc. I'm pretty sure I heard McNamara use the
phrase, "you dance with them that brung ya."

I think it is a greater service to "them that brung ya" to get them
into the biggest party. But loyalty is very understandable in the
abstract, as well as understandable as a tool to obtain loyal behavior
from subordinates.  How much loyalty is too much?
+++++++++++

This is an important point, in the specific, "loyalty" and in the
universal case about managerial decisionmaking.

The single most prevalent managerial error is binary thinking, the
quirk that makes individuals believe there are only two options, polar
opposties. From an anthro perspective, we learn this early -- our
bodies, to the outside world, have bilateral symmetry, we come equipped
to think, literally, "on the one hand, on the other hand". If we were
a species that had three of everything (trilateral symmetry), we would
gravitate towards trilateral thinking (and the Minnesota Triplets would
win the AL Central every year).

So there's a structural tendency for humans to think in simple
dualities. Not a bad thing one knows this and allows for it in their
decisions (like allowing for gravity in the way one throws from right
field to third base). It's a given -- neither bad nor good in its
intrinsic stance.

Very few things a manager faces are *actually* binary. Decisionmaking
requires shading, examination of other options, and the ability (not
inevitable choice) to find something in the gray areas in the middle,
or off the scale entirely.

I'll get back to the specifics of loyalty, as in how much is too much,
but gotta meet an ugly deadline for a client right now.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #41 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Sat 3 Jun 06 16:30
    
Part II of answer to Stephanie on
Loyalty -- How Much Is Too Much?
++++++++
The Fregosi/Wild Thing Example is based on wishful thinking, but
wishful thinking about PERFORMANCE.

The McNamara examples (leaving an injured Bill Buckner in to play
first base) is based on warm-fuzzies, because he wanted Buck to get to
be on the field & not the bench when they won the series because he had
been such an essential part of the team's success.

Another kind of example, a third base one. Lou Piniella hated to
platoon players or rotate his bench because when he played, he was a
tweener...a right-handed hitter who was close to all-star caliber
against left-handed pitchers (.315 avg .360 on base .450 slugging) but
just so-so against right-handed (.265 .305 .365). 
     http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/Jpinil0010.htm
So when he played, he'd get benched for some games, pulled for a
pinch-hitter in others. And it made him spit blood, because he was a
very competitive guy. And because he hated being on the receiving end,
he hated doing it to players. So he had several players who just
struggled against certain kinds of pitchers (for example, John Olerud)
or in certain situations, and he knew it, but he wouldn't act on it for
the benefit of the team's chances. So he would be loyal to starters
when it hurt the team.

So let's call these three loyalties: Past Performance, Schmaltz, and
Inner Demons. They all appear in workplaces beyond baseball.

The first is wishful thinking, but it's at least sometimes arguable on
historical grounds, motivated by (ancient) data. I counsel against it,
because even if the Wild Thing might get effective again, someone else
could easily be better and by using them, you are strengthening the
teams portfolio of possible solutions.

Schmaltz that makes the nurtured individual and teammates feel better
and more motivated is excusable IF THE RESULTS OF FAILURE ARE
ESSENTIALLY IRRELEVANT. Otherwise, 'tis to be zipped.

Inner Demons, MIGHT be The Golden Rule in some cases, but I urge
clients not to do that except where the thing that it hurts to do is
something like an ethical "violation", or where the alternatives truly
are no better. The challenge with managing from one's feelings is it
tends to be addictive, and then it slides into
non-introspective...where the choices one makes are driven by factors
not-in-the-current-situation, but family-of-origin or other buried
concepts.

Loyalty to employees (the winners and the try-but-strugglers as well)
is critical. But not when a failure through loyalty can bring down
everyone's chances.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #42 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Sat 3 Jun 06 22:24
    

What about another use of emotion -- the screaming or coldly angry 
confrontation? 

You talk about Dick Williams' experience as a new manager with Oakland. 
I'm not sure I understand why he and, it appears, you also attach such 
significance to that episode (page 46). You call it the "show of 
dominance." Most of us don't have to manage Catfish Hunter and Reggie 
Jackson; in business, what proportion of subordinates would you say really 
need that kind of display from a new boss, and how would the others 
respond to it?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #43 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Sun 4 Jun 06 12:06
    
IN RESPONSE TO STEPHANIE IN #42
First, I think the answer to "what proportion" is "too many". One is
"too many". Sadly, there are some people who respond enthusiastically
to a kick in the axe but not to a reasoned request or an encouraging
pat on the back.

It's really critical for a manager to *be able* to behave the way
Williams did, even if she doesn't authentically feel that way. A
amanager needs a broad portfolio of behaviors, and not jut be able to
deploy the ones natural to him.

When I get to hire staff, I intentionally stay away from people who
work hard to please in reaction to confrontational behavior. But that's
my own choice, my own bias; my response to authority is I return
disrespect with loss-of-respect for the confronter. But as a manager,
it' my job to get the most out of the resources at hand. And if I need
to dress someone down to get the most out of them, then that's what I'm
getting paid to do. In all honesty, though, I try to ease those
individuals into other workgroups, unless they are "11"s, in which case
I just suck it up.

It's important, especially w/extreme behaviors, radical discipline or
radical niceness, to AT ALL TIME STAY IN CONTEXT, and be very cognizant
of how each individual will respond. The more extreme you are with
this at either pole, the more critical it is to be targeted, precise
and very very careful in making sure you're not spewing it at the wrong
individuals, people who will not react by providing better
performance.

Stephanie (and everyone else), what do YOU think? Have you had any
reports who responded only to some behavior that wasn't right near the
top of your toolbox?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #44 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Mon 5 Jun 06 01:26
    

I've had reports who didn't respond to ANYTHING I could do except fire 
them. And I've done that, but always with enormous angst. But maybe I just 
have a limited toolbox. I'll bet others have more to say on that.

What about reports who are getting on your nerves? Who are just ... 
bugging you, making you irritable? I have always tried to be conscious of 
the fact that as the boss, every behavior of mine is magnified way beyond 
that of a peer. But it's been difficult at times.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #45 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Mon 5 Jun 06 08:58
    
re: Irritabilty-amplifyin' Employees

It took me years to get chilled out about irritating staffers. We
*ALL* have toolboxes that are limited -- that's what 3rd base skills
are about -- surpressing acting based on a personal bias/feeling, yes,
but more importantly, *recognizing* them so that when we feel a certain
way about a behavior, we can take a deep breath, step back quickly and
evaluate it as whether it undermines the org or just our personal
feelings.

My own technique is to ask myself two questions, "Is this irritating
behavior important in the scheme of things", and "does it hold the
potential to enhance or degrade the organization's opportunities or
mission or integrity." In my case, I've found mostly the answer becomes
"no". For the subset that is "yes", I address the irritant, and
quickly as a rule because I don't enjoy being irritated. 

In baseball, bad scouts see a player with unusual mechanics or body
type, and just pass on them instantly, without evaluation. A good scout
will divide the "unusualness" into two piles: that which is known to
create a career ceiling and that which is merely "different".  There
are some pitching motions, one described as "across the body" that
lead, almost certainly, to shoulder problems. The Astro-->Red Sox
pitcher Wade Miller had these mechanics. Some teams passed on him but
he was effective enough in the present the Astros took him and used
him, tried to change his mechanics (they didn't), and the Red Sox took
him on a limited contract that didn't expose them to a ton of risk
if/when he went down. And because not a lot of org.s were clamoring for
Miller's services, they got a discount, like I had on that 5-cylinder
Peugeot I bought from the Ford truck dealership in rural SW Ohio.

Hall of Fame OF Al "Bucketfoot" Simmons
(http://www.baseball-reference.com/s/simmoal01.shtml) is the best known
case. He stepped int he bucket (pulled his front foot away from home
plate during a swing). Usually a sign of fear, many scouts passed on
him, but Connie Mack recognized he did a lot of things well and didn't
let that quirk/irritation get in the way.

Beyond baseball, you get these cases, both sides of the divide,
keepers and not. When I ran the InfoWorld test center, I had a staffer
who cried, bawled actually, at the drop of a hint of a shadow of a
dream of criticism. So if one suggested to her, "That was okay. Next
time I'd like you to try it this other way", we'd lose her for an hour.
This irritated the heck out of me, but I just sucked it up because she
was a slow-and-steady skilled worker who produced well-enough-plus. An
asset. But a couple of her co-workers told me it was tough on them, so
we found her a slightly better-paying job in another department and
she excelled at it. Win-win. In a contract development group I was
tweaking in the middle 90s, one of the better software engineers had an
office that looked like a teenage boy's bedroom. Messy and walls
covered with posters of some college football team he was obsessed with
and of actresses w/whom he was enchanted. Sloppy, immature, and
somewhat malodorous. Irritating. But he was a high producer and while
we asked him to deal with the clutter we basically left him alone. His
value/irritation ratio was high, even with the high denominator.

ALL: What's the most irritating thing YOU'VE ever endured in a high
performer? Did you ever go mano-a-tete with someone over something you
later thought was trivial? Have you ever taken a chance on someone you
knew right away was odd or eccentric but had it pay off?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #46 of 103: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Mon 5 Jun 06 09:16
    
A staff member I managed for a while, a young woman just out of
college, was very smart, a very quick learner, and a real asset to the
staff. Her writing was excellent, for the most part, and she was
outgoing and personable in business meetings with readers and
advertisers. But she was man-crazy. She bedded our managing editor for
a while, and would on occasion flirt inappropriately at conventions and
industry gatherings. I talked to her about it -- and got accused of
sexual harrassment. In the end she had to go. 
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #47 of 103: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Mon 5 Jun 06 09:18
    
(I should add that after she was gone I hired a young guy who turned
out to be one of the best hires I ever made, and the period we worked
together was perhaps the best staff working situation I've ever been
part of. He eventually went to Los Angeles, became a television writer,
and just last month sold a screenplay for big, big bucks to Disney.
I'm thrilled for his success.)
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #48 of 103: Gail Williams (gail) Mon 5 Jun 06 10:02
    
From years ago:  working with a brilliant performer who expected goof-off
time in return for being incredibly productive.  Fair enough -- except that
particular star was always enthusiastically showing the fruits of 
recreation off to coworkers during regular work hours, making me seem 
unfair in a small group environment where fair was extremely important.  
Very painful to cope with.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #49 of 103: Ari Davidow (ari) Mon 5 Jun 06 11:36
    
One of my first jobs was in a graphic arts company. The star artist was a bit 
crazy. Every so often he would just scream. Sort of an existential angst 
release. It didn't bother me, since I generally enjoyed working with him and 
he did great work, but it was very difficult explaining to potential recruits.

Still, we are in the graphic arts industry. I felt at the time, and still feel, 
that this was merely eccentric behavior and that anyone put off by it probably 
wasn't our sort of hire.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #50 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Mon 5 Jun 06 20:11
    
GAIL WILLIAMS SAID:
"...making me seem 
unfair in a small group environment where fair was extremely
important.  
Very painful to cope with."

Totally. One of the hardest things to do in management, I agree, is
treating everyone "the same" while meeting each individual' needs in a
particular way. There's no computer-program level of decision table to
Also, in the past, do it. It's very subtle.

In baseball, there is a set of fixed rules and managers try to hold
the line uniformly on all players for that set. When Dick Williams took
over the miserable Red Sox at the end of 1966, he made the team
captain, Yaz, yield his captaincy and room doubled up like all the
other players. OTOH, Barry Bonds sometimes won't take batting practice
-- he's allowed to do that because he's a couple of standard deviations
away from the normal hitter. But he's so far away from the mean, it's
apparent. Still, if he'd been expected to be a team player (in every
sense of the couplet) all his life, he might not be so reviled by press
and some fans now.

It sounds like the brilliant performer undermined you unconsciously or
consciously. If you *are* going to give special privileges it's
important, I think to get buy in from the beneficiary that they are
still a member of the team, and in exchange for the special perks, she
should be giving extra help to her peers.

I've given people bonuses for OTHER people's successes if they really
helped. It can set a useful team-work ethic tone.
  

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