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14 Management Rules that Make Absolutely No Sense

February 21, 2014

I’ve been working in the IT field since 1988. I’ve been a manager for roughly the last ten years. I’ve tried to pay attention during that time. I’ve tried to figure out what worked and what didn’t.

In fact, I avoided management for a long time. I started out as an engineer, and I enjoyed it. When opportunities arose to go into management I passed on them. Not because I didn’t think I’d do a good job. But, because I’d had so many bad managers, that I didn’t want to subject myself to whatever bad stuff you had to endure to be a manager.

I was convinced that at some point while being a manager you had to be a jerk. I found out that wasn’t the case. It was simply that some of my past managers had been jerks. (Sometimes You Have To Be A Jerk. No, You’re Just a Jerk.)

I kept notes. Listed below are the 14 management rules I came up with over the course of my career. But, there’s a catch. The names don’t always make it clear what the rule or the lesson is. Read through the rules and then I’ll explain what I have planned with them.

1. In the absence of orders: ATTACK!

2. I want the jacks not the balls.

3. I saved my company $25K/month and all I got was this lousy t-shirt

4. Company loyalty only ever goes one way

5. Your company has a uniform even if it doesn’t have a dress code

6. Decide what you will accept and what you’re willing to give up. When you get one or the other: STOP!

7. The danger of being the smartest guy in the room

8. The power of saying “I don’t know.”

9. The art of the joke (Or why you shouldn’t worry about your job if I’m teasing you about your job.)

10. Always Remember Your Lines

11. Money is a lousy motivator

12. If you have to go anyway, it’s better to lead than to follow

13. Sometimes the best answer to a technical question is “It’s magic.”

14. If it bleeds it leads

I’ve touched on a couple of these in other posts. When I managed a team, I printed out these rules and gave a copy to each employee. I then told them that I would hold myself to these 14 principles. They replied,

These don’t make any sense.

So, each week at our team meeting, I would go over one rule. I’ve decided that Friday’s are my new team meeting day. Over the next few months, each Friday I’ll pick one of these and explain what I mean. You are welcome to agree or disagree or even provide your own examples.

The ultimate goal is to collect the stories around these 14 principles along with some selected reader submissions and then next summer see if I’ve written well enough to warrant putting them into a book.

I’m still working on the title. The two rejected titles were:

Company Loyalty Only Ever Goes One Way (Rejected because I still would like to be hired by companies in the future.)

Organization Agility: The ability to get things done in a large organization. (Rejected because my editor said, “Wow, that sounds really boring.”)

So, I’ll keep noodling on the title. Once you understand more of my management style feel free to offer advice on the title, or suggestions for new rules, or your own personal examples.

The order might change, but next Friday look for a post explaining why

In The Absence of Orders: ATTACK!

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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