Opinion

Touchy-feely approach may be key to good management



Ross Bentley

The Frog-snogger's Guide

Susan Lancaster and Sean Orford

Management Books 2000 £12.99

ISBN 1-85252-348-4

This book draws its unusual title from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale about the princess who kissed a frog to get her ball back. In that instance, the princess's luck was in and her frog turned into a prince. While the appearance of princes cannot be guaranteed in everyday life, the need to be able to snog frogs can.

Frog snogging is about developing people power and positive relationships through getting to like the unlikeable or snogging the seemingly un-snoggable. As the road to success becomes more crowded, it is very important for us to develop and cultivate business and personal relationships with the "right" people.

Unfortunately, some of these "right" people might turn out to be frogs you would rather ignore completely because of your intense dislike, or toads to be avoided at all costs.

We meet many travellers on this road to success. Some of them are even more competitive than we are, some are aggressive and some are good and helpful people who will be of great assistance if we know how to contact and communicate with them.

This guide shows the practical strategies for building the bridges that allow us to snog the ugly. Closing the gap between you and your slimy frog is a process of wooing and courting and it often requires help and understanding. The good thing is that successful frog snogging involves two willing participants working to mutual advantage, so there is little need for you to force yourself on anyone.

So happy snogging but watch out for the odd toad with a poisonous bite that leaves a nasty after-taste.

21 Ideas for Managers

Charles Handy, Jossey-Bass

£17.95

ISBN 0-7879-5219-2

If snogging is not your thing, then how about a touch of stroking? The "Stroking Formula" is just one of the 21 ideas that make up this accessible and entertaining book from the master of management theory. The stroking argument says that people, workmates, subordinates react better to positive input from managers rather than a verbal blasting.

"How many times have I told you?", "And what do you think you are doing?", "If I find you doing that once moreÉ", "How can you be so stupid as toÉ", "Give me one good reason why?" The phrases trip off the tongue very rapidly, the tone of voice says it all - you were wrong and you should be punished.

And, says Handy, for a time this approach works. No one likes to be shouted at, or even reprimanded. People will do their best to avoid it in the future.

The logical way is to change our behaviour and do things the right way.

Unfortunately, humans beings are not always logical - they react with their feelings as much as their brains. The other way to avoid being shouted at is to avoid being caught.

If you run a shouting regime, you have to be a police officer as well, checking constantly, that your wishes are being obeyed. It is because shouting implies checking that, in the end, it becomes inefficient and expensive.

We should therefore try "stroking", that is compliments, encouragement and persuasion. "Try and find people doing something good," suggest Handy. While taking more effort in the short-term - Handy says this approach gets people, working better, with less supervision needed.

Illustrated with anecdotes, fables and everday experiences, Handy's book is good to dip into if you have a spare 10 minutes or so and is certainly food for thought.

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This was first published in November 2000

 

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