Whack a Mole Management

If you have been to one of my training sessions there is fair chance that you have heard me rant about whack a mole management. Whack-a-mole is an arcade game in which you try to hit ‘moles’ that pop up randomly on a board using a rubber mallet. Every time you hit a mole, you get a point.

It’s fun and people experience a ‘high’ as pent-up energy is released by whacking the moles. The challenge of not knowing where the next mole is coming from adds to the excitement.

Whack-a-mole management is based on the same principles.

The challenges are the ‘moles’. As each challenge presents itself to managers, they hit it hard and fast with the hammer of position and conventional wisdom. Slam! They get one. Slam! They get another one.

It requires quick decision making in a fast moving game. It’s exhausting, but fun. Each night the players go home, knowing their job is safe because they have successfully ‘whacked’ enough organizational problems to stay for another day.

Problem One: Whack-a-mole lures people in because it works in the short term
Problem Two: Whack-a-mole management is more concerned with looking good than with being good.
Problem Three: Whack-a-mole management always ends by making things worse

Want to learn more? Try this blog post over at Slow Leadership

Why Managers Fail

This is the title of an interesting blog post by Lisa Haneberg – author of High Impact Middle Management – which has much to recommend it.

She offers a top 5 list of reasons why managers lose their jobs:

  1. Fail to build positive and trusting relationships.
  2. People don’t like working for him or her (micromanagement the #1 complaint).
  3. He or she does not get things – the right things – done.
  4. Is uncoachable. They don’t take help.
  5. Is full of bull – does not have the courage to be honest about what was going well and where things were not going well.

So if we invert this list would we have a compelling recipe for management success?

  1. Succeeds in building positive and trusting relationships
  2. People like working for him or her
  3. He or she regularly gets the right things done
  4. He or she is very coachable.  Always open  to learning.
  5. Has the courage to be honest about what is going well and what is not going so well.