Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Saturday October 21 2006

Earlier today I did something very strange.  I pretended to be a bad manager.  Well, I am a bad manager, I expect.  I’ve seldom tried to manage anything beyond my own activities.  But I was acting a bad manager, in front of a video camera.

Richard the Radio Producer (who also runs this - I am, fingers crossed, to be the ideal husband in An Ideal Husband) is trying to get a contract in China to make training videos, to train middling rank hotel managers.  The technique he is trying to sell is to show the trainees some video of bad managers in action, with abusive captions.  And then they make videos, with themselves starring, of what good managers do.

So there I was, despising the person I was talking to, being vague, abusive, dismissive, uninterested, generally Basil-Fawlty-ing away as hideously and nastily as I could ... manage.

It was all based on the very well-known book series called The One Minute Manager with me doing the opposite of all this.

One Minute Managers emphasise and negotiate clear goals. Me: “Goals?  Goals?!?  We’re not playing football!  I tell you what to do, you do it.  So, clean.  No need to write that down.  You know how to clean, don’t you?”

One Minute Managers emphasise praise, for specific good actions, immediately after they’ve been done.  Me: “That cleaning you did last month, or whenever it was.  It was good, apparently.  Ooh, that’s a nice printer.” (That last thing I said for real.  We did all this in a big office full of computing kit of all imaginable kinds, and one particular bit of kit looked especially good.  But the camera was permanently running, and Richard said this off-the-cuff remark of mine was particularly good for communicating my deep lack of concern for the individual.)

One Minute Managers reprimand, again specifically and immediately, reprimanding the sin not the sinner.  Me: “You’re a rotten cleaner.  Didn’t your stupid mother teach you to clean?  There are plenty of other idiots who could do your stupid job.”

One Minute Managers emphasise respect for the person praised or reprimanded, with physical contact to emphasise that the manager is on his side.  Me: “Off you go, and no don’t shake hands with me, you’re dirty from all that cleaning.” Pause.  “Oh, are you still here?”

What a bastard I was.  After about half an hour of filming Richard reckoned he had enough bastardry to make a really nasty vid to show his Chinese customers.  If he gets the contract, I may have to go back to do more, at which point I may even get paid.  As it was, no money, but what the hell, the whole thing only took about an hour and it was interesting.

Here’s a picture of Richard, his cute Sony vid-camera (costing about £1,100 in GB, more like £700 where he bought it, in China), and his partner Zou (pronounced “Zoo") who is from Shanghai.

image

I asked Zou: How is Shanghai pronounced?  “Shang high”, he said, i.e. as we already pronounce it.  A small mercy to be thankful for.

If all proceeds as Richard and Zou hope, I may end up learning things that will be of use to me at the Globalisation Institute blog, where my latest effort, about tomorrow’s intriguing Panama Canal widening referendum, is now up.