Don’t be an Ostrich

OstrichHere’s something that I’ve noticed over the years: ‘Command and control’ managers really don’t like being referred to as….well…’command and control’ managers.

In fact, they don’t like this apparently grubby ‘command and control’ phrase being used to describe anything around them – it seems to irritate them….a lot!

So it got me pondering about why this might be:

  • Perhaps they see it as disrespectful, as in “how dare you, don’t you know who I am?!”
  • Perhaps they are somewhat embarrassed, as in “shhh – keep your voice down! I’m not very comfortable with you bandying that term about.”
  • Probably there’s an element of both.

If you are that ‘irritated manager’

…and this is the point of this very short post, putting your fingers in your ears and humming “lalalala” doesn’t make it go away.

Fingers in ears

If someone uses the dreaded ‘command and control’ phrase ‘at’ or about you (or your management team) then, rather than being an ostrich, how about asking for, and respectfully drilling into, their perspective as to why they feel this way?

You might learn quite a bit (but that would depend upon you).

…and even if you aren’t able to bring yourself to accept (some of) what they say, remember that perception is reality.

And before you are tempted by the “well that may be your opinion Bob, but you are the only one saying it!” riposte…stand back and have a think about that.

One of THE attributes of a ‘command and control’ environment is fear…and so there should be no surprise that there is only one foolish/ brave/ wise/ disengaged/ about to retire/ got another job* ‘Bob’ prepared to tell you. (* select as appropriate)

Perhaps you would have accepted Bob’s critique, say, last year but you have been doing your best to progress towards a better way. However, don’t be offended if the ‘command and control’ label doesn’t melt away overnight – it won’t because it can’t.

Turn Bob’s challenge on its head as a good thing – every time someone uses the ‘command and control’ label you have an opportunity to better, and more deeply, understand your current condition and its root cause and then further improve.

…though, if it’s not getting better after a while, you are probably doing it wrong!

…and finally

If you are the employee using the ‘command and control’ label to describe what you see and feel, then please carry on with using this label when it is appropriate to do so…but carefully look out for any ostrich discomfort from management (whether verbal or body language) and, rather than withdrawing or defusing your comment, how about asking them “so why the discomfort?”

–  You may create an opportunity to inform and educate 🙂

Note: My next post will use an Ackoff essay to explain why ‘command and control’ is the wrong model to apply.

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