Friday, June 22, 2007

Communication of Managers

I bought this book quite a while ago, but I have been reading little bits every so often in the past few weeks:

(Apart from one of the ultimate questions - is the manager on the left male or female?)

This book was written in 1960, it was before the time of '5 secrets to management' books and is more realistic. Wilfred Brown is writing down his 'experience' as a manager and it is far more interesting to get insights into 1950s executive life than any smarmy management consultant. The main thing is office life isn't really that different, you still get power struggles, communication errors and minefield politics. What is more Brown is coming from the approach that management has never been written down like this before, he is starting a new academic discipline.

My favourite bits are the examples from his real life that he gives of 'how not to manage'. The following gives an example of this, Brown is explaining one of the mysteries of communication:

"If a manager describes to his subordinate, with obvious approval, the technique being employed for a particular job elsewhere, it is an instruction to his subordinate to learn about it. The more deeply one thinks about these managerial-subordinate communications, the clearer it becomes that they are always instructions.
Now consider the position when B(1) says to his colleague and equal B(2): 'I advise you to do this or that', or 'Please supply me with the following information or assistance'. Clearly, no instruction has passed. The position arises, therefore, is that the same words have quite different meanings according to the roles occupied by the people between whom communication takes place."

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