different types
of people
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houldn’t a manager treat everyone the same? Your innate
sense of decency and fairness will push you in this direc-
tion but over time I have come to realise that a brilliant
manager needs to understand the particular characteristics and
hang-ups of different professions.
In this chapter I will be looking at a number of different pro-
fessions and analysing what makes people who do these jobs
tick. I will describe a number of techniques for having a good
managerial relationship with these different professions, from
very specific professions such as lawyers and software engineers,
to more generic types such as support staff, sales people and
creative people.
Before getting down to the details of the different types of people
you have to manage and interact with, here are some funda-
mental principles that apply across the board.
When dealing with other professions, you need to respect their
professionalism. There is absolutely no point in consulting a
lawyer and then constantly arguing with them or ignoring their
advice. On the other hand, professionals can often forget that
their principal role is to support the manager in making a deci-
sion. In many cases it will be you who has to make the decision
on business grounds, and it is for your experts to advise you of
different possibilities and relevant implications. For example,
if a creative person proposes a new product idea then you will
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94 brilliant manager
probably have to take the lead in exploring how their idea could
be adapted to bring it to market; you will pose market scenarios,
but the creative person will be the one who knows best how to
adapt their idea to those scenarios.
Interacting with people who are experts in different areas from
yourself is a bit of an art. Here are the key points to remember.
Never show disrespect for an expert’s professionalism
Many experts can try the patience of a saint! No matter how
annoyed you get, you must never make the mistake of allowing
your annoyance to be expressed in a disrespectful manner. For
many experts, the worst of all insults is to accuse them of being
Do not allow yourself to be blinded by jargon
The best professionals can make themselves understood to
laymen. There is a very common tendency for experts to hide
behind a veneer of ‘professional mystique’. Do not allow your
experts to intimidate you. It is not only acceptable, it is essential
that you require that experts explain
their points to you in language that
you can understand. If this means
asking question after question after
question – so be it. They will eventu-
ally get the message that you insist on understanding the issues
that are relevant to the decisions you have to take.
Explain your problems to your experts
I have found that it is nearly always very productive for you to
explain your problem area to your experts. It is obviously much
easier for them to help you if they understand the nature of the
problems you face. Experts are usually fascinated to find out
how your business works. I would, however, remind you that you
should not use jargon on them!
do not allow your
experts to intimidate
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