Review – Gary Sheard’s Awful Management
Awful Management chronicles the business experiences of Gary Sheard from junior pea picker to the chairman of a plc. Along the way he encounters “awful management” at every level and in every area from profitability to personnel to perception. By pointing out the mistakes and problems in the ways people try to manage their business, by highlighting the “what not to do,” this book will let employees recognise when management is not working as well as showing those in command a better course to take. It’s also a very good read!
The first thing that hit me about Awful Management was that, yes, I had worked in places where “awful management” is the norm, where one-to-one personal development was done grudgingly as a box ticking exercise and where embarrassing the staff by publicly picking faults is the best way the management know to motivate people to do better. I’ve also been to meetings about arranging meetings for meetings that nobody ever makes a decision at and dealt with personnel departments who only know you as a number. So I found myself nodding in recognition at a lot of the stories in this book. And that is the great thing about the writing, it is very approachable because of its anecdotal format and I found myself picking up and remembering a lot more information that more formal management books. Even if you just read it as an autobiographical tale of a rise through the ranks it is humorous and engaging and not in any way preaching in its advice. You know that this is someone that has actually been there and seen that and that makes the advice all the more relevant.
If you are looking for a quick ref though, this isn’t it. You learn from reading about the experiences throughout the stories, rather than getting to do lists and practical pointers. There are “awful management” lists at the end of every chapter, highlighting the salient points of how not to be a good manager and, while these are very funny for the most part, I think it would have been better to have a “here’s what to do instead” list to make it more useful as a management reference book. But as a good story about the trials and tribulations of business with gentle guidelines that will sink in and stay with you, this is a definite read.
**** 4 STARS!!!