Dealing with
colleagues
Introduction 116
Colleagues or competitors? 116
Understanding yourself 118
Understanding others 119
Negotiating judo: succeed without fighting 121
How to disagree agreeably (how to turn disagreement into
agreement)
122
How to handle exploding head syndrome 123
When to fight 125
7
THE MOBILE MBA
116
INTRODUCTION
When I coach executives, I very rarely find that any of their challenges are to
do with tasks or techniques. Nearly all the challenges which executives find
most challenging are other people: colleagues, team members and bosses.
Unfortunately, people cannot be managed like accounts: you cannot insist they
conform to standard rules and that they should all balance at the end of the
month. For better or worse, people have minds of their own. As managers, we
have to deal with them to get results.
Dealing with people is getting harder all the time. The days of command and
control are long gone. If we are to succeed, we have to make things happen
through people who we do not control. We have to learn the subtle arts of per-
suasion, influence and occasional hard ball. Because there is no rule book for
dealing with people, this is the skill which most managers struggle hardest with.
We learn mainly from experience of messing up and occasionally succeeding,
or by watching others mess up and succeed. This is a long, slow random walk of
experience. Most of us do not have the time or patience for this slow walk.
Although there is no rule book, there are some fairly predictable principles
of success and failure. If we can learn the principles, then we can decide how to
apply them in practice and in the style which best suits each one of us.
COLLEAGUES OR COMPETITORS?
Who is your deadliest competitor? The people you really need to fear are those
who can take away your promotion, seize your bonus pool, get their priori-
ties put ahead of yours when it comes to management time and support, and
can mess up your projects and proposals. So your real competition is not in
the marketplace. Your real competition is sitting at a desk
near you. Your colleagues are your deadliest competitors,
but also your most important collaborators in making
things happen.
To make your task more interesting, your firm probably
extols the virtues of team work. So you have to work with
people with whom you are competing, and all of them
think that they are at the centre of the universe, have the most important and
urgent tasks, and that they are the good people surrounded by mendacious,
idle and incompetent colleagues.
Succeeding in such a contradictory, and possibly dysfunctional, environment
requires a certain mindset. You need a simple set of rules to guide you in deal-
ing with your colleagues and the organisation. Each firm and each individual
has their own unique success formula. You need to build yours and make it fit
your real
competition
is sitting at a
desk near you

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