Today the Wanna Grab Coffee? crew started a new series diving deep into The Nine Lies About Work - A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. Buckingham and Goodall use their experience at Gallup as employee engagement consultants to notate and  challenge nine common misconceptions or bad management practices in companies and how they can be improved. Here are the nine lies that we’ll be covering:

  1. People care which company they work for.
  2. The best plan wins.
  3. The best companies cascade goals.
  4. The best people are well-rounded.
  5. People need feedback.
  6. People can reliably rate other people.
  7. People have potential.
  8. Work/life balance matters most.
  9. Leadership is a thing.

These lies are intentionally worded to invoke a strong reaction. However, it is critical to suspend the negative surface level reaction in order to learn from Buckingham and Goodall’s experiences. The wording of these nine lies seem to imply the exact opposite is true but in fact, it is much more nuanced. As Buckingham and Goodall write, “A freethinking leader is someone who embraces a world in which the weird uniqueness of each individual is seen not as a flaw to be ground down but a mess worth engaging with.” In order to better comprehend what this means, let’s compare this to the rebuttal of Taylorism in The Human Side of Enterprise by Doug McGregor. Taylorism is based on the underlying assumption that people hate work so they require coercion and control. McGregor proposes a theory that people are motivated to work under the right conditions and they seek responsibility, are creative problem solvers and like work and that work is as much a part of the human experience as rest and play.

Buckingham and Goodall aim to challenge best practices at companies. For example, it is typical practice for a manager to ask what the plan is for the role/team/first 90 days once an employee has been promoted. However, Buckingham and Goodall make the argument that having and creating this plan doesn’t necessarily mean you will “win” at the game. This does not mean that having a plan is a bad idea and plans should be eliminated. Instead, what this means is that having a plan does not mean that it sets you up for success at the company.

Companies aim for a fungibility and predictability model where they can substitute out employees at any time and know that company standards will be followed aka employee conformity. Although in some instances this type of model is ideal, it does not work for unique roles such as  a CEO or Board Member.

With the nine lies, there are corresponding nine truths. Peter Drucker’s MBO - Management by Objectives - theory is at the heart of each lie. MBO is a model that aims at improving a company’s performance by defining clear objectives that are agreed upon by both managers and employees. Whether or not Buckingham and Goodall take verbal punches at Drucker for shock factor and attention or innovation is yet to be determined. One thing’s for sure, with only 20% of employees being engaged in the workplace innovation is long overdue for employee management.

As we go through and discuss each lie, Igor will be promoting Buckingham and Goodall’s views while Charles and I will be providing our unfiltered reactions to each lie. Stay tuned to see how we suspend our judgement and engage in healthy conflict.

Did you find this helpful? Have suggestions for topics or questions you want us to discuss on the next podcast? Reach out to us at hello@wannagrabcoffee.com.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

-The Nine Lies About Work - A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall

-The Human Side of Enterprise by Doug McGregor

-Peter Drucker