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  • Writer's pictureJohn MacKenzie

Management (In)competence?

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

Do you sometimes feel your organisation is a bit like this?


Ever heard of Force Field Analysis? Briefly, this OD tool involves looking at the strategic objectives of an organisation, working out what you have to do to get there (positive actions), then looking at all the possible obstacles (negatives) that might get in the way and how you might deal with them before you decide what you actually want to do.


I wondered what would happen if I adapted this theory and applied it to the various senior management teams I have worked with over the last 10 or 20 years. Of course, we all know what competencies and management principles the top team should apply to themselves, don't we?


​So, I will not bore the pants off you with reiterating the positive stuff; rather, I will describe in a few short phrases what the negatives typically look like from the cynics viewpoint. Here goes...


Management Principles

  • Divide and Rule - keep opportunities for your management team to exchange information among themselves to the minimum

  • Eliminate team meetings - don't give your subordinates the opportunity to gang up against you for any reason

  • Keep all approvals to yourself - eliminates the need to find other more mentally challenging work to do

  • Demand weekly (daily preferred) reports - keeps business unit heads on their toes

  • Criticise the smallest detail - subordinates will think you must know it all

  • Change your mind frequently - keeps them guessing and focused on what you're going to do next rather than plotting against you

Management Competencies

  • Outsourcing: ability to outsource effectively keeps your job simple, maximises control and, using cheapest supplier, minimises costs​

  • Plagiarism: the ability to steal ideas from others and pass off as your own (you also have someone to blame if things go wrong)

  • Authoritarianism: being a total b*****d and keeping subordinates constantly in fear of you

  • Subjugation: an essential skill required is the ability to totally subjugate your subordinates (treat them like children)

  • Control: also essential is that you keep your 'team' under total control at all times (treat like children, after all, you are a 'family')

  • Nepotism: Recruit friends, relatives and others who 'owe you' thus ensuring you have your own absolutely loyal spy network

  • Ingratiation: 'yes man' interpersonal skills with superiors strongly desired - essential you appear to look up to the father figure who knows best

...remind you of anyone? If your boss demonstrates any of these behaviours, what would you do?


Do you have responsibilities for others at work? Are you a boss or department head? Do yourself a favour by taking a bit of time out to reflect on your own behaviours at work.

  • Have you considered asking others how you might come across to them in your day-to-day interactions?

  • Does your organisation have policies and procedures in place to encourage feedback on behaviours in the workplace?

  • Has your organisation ever carried out a 360 degree feedback exercise administered by an external agency?

  • Has your organisation ever considered what the existing management culture is like?

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