I have the honour of regularly meeting with a bunch of guys who keep me grounded. Yes, this particular group is a bunch of guys - one day I'll talk about the great women I know too, people such Di Lee, Michelle Prak, Anita Gayen, Belinda Harris, Liz Hemphill.
But for now, the guys I see about once a week. All over sixty, and it helps remind me of the way the day-to-day skirmishes really don't count for that much.
But one of these guys is a senior project manager in a contractor to state government. He manages multi-million dollar projects and in his day earned a reputation as a head kicker - did huge battle with the unions.
But the guy seems to have always been human. As I told him about a fight I was having with Mr 14yo, his words went like this:
"yeh I had that once with a teacher who was in a fight with my daughter. The teacher called me, saying how it went and my answer was 'you've gotta remember who the adult is here. This kid's doped to the eyeballs on raging teen hormones and school soap opera, and you're the adult. As the adult how are you managing it? - because just tell me and I'll support you'"
And the guy then calmly, firmly debriefed his daughter - too - that afternoon.
So that's the type of guy were dealing with. And in the highly political world of (let's say) state government that type of talk might get you in trouble, especially with bosses. I hear he has a couple who don't like him at all.
So, recently I was delighted to hear that there can be returns to being the right type of person. I heard two stories.
Some meeting that brought together all the major players in his huge industry gave my buddy what he calls a huge ego stroke. While his bosses were there, preening, the really important players kept making a beeline to him, saying how "we must catch up" and clearly showing him great respect and friendship. He noted that his bosses were saying "what's so special about that prick?" - and that probably says more about them that it did about him. Even in recounting the story, this guy was humble and self aware.
360 degree assessment
But a great "win for the good guys" came from the performance assessment that not only took in his two bosses, but a number of peers and a number of subordinates. So in all, fourteen people were singing my buddy's praises and two people were "shitcanning" him. Bear in mind that other elements of his performance are all fine, he brings all his projects in - on time or better and on budget or better.
So in my buddy's performance review debrief (with the external psych) he knew who his detractors were. And in a delicious story, the HR consultant's report noted a management problem in the section and they considered it lay with the two bosses. Strangely they would be the ones thinking of my buddy as incompetent and unethical and - clearly - telling anyone who would listen.
So for me, a big message is that the day to day skirmishes count for nothing and that history often writes a different story to your current enemy of the day. History is written by the victors, but only in the short term.
There is sometimes a fair argument that 'hey, it's not me, it's you' and we can just see how history sees this one.
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