Friday, February 2, 2007/
The ability to nod thoughtfully has played an important part in my steady rise through middle management.
The ability to nod thoughtfully has played an important part in my steady rise through middle management – or “muddle management,” as our neighbours across the Tasman so astutely describe it.
Whenever presented with information that appears to warrant some kind of reaction, but unsure precisely what reaction is appropriate, I nod, knowingly. That simple device has safely me carried me through difficult moments in a wide range of performance discussions, brainstorming sessions, strategic planning workshops, and the most dangerous of all – post-implementation reviews.
(For those of you unfamiliar with the term, post-implementation reviews are meetings in which executive management select a scapegoat whose resignation can be announced to the sharemarket to demonstrate the CEO’s commitment to stopping whichever corporate embarrassment has come to the attention of the financial press.)
In fact, if resumes bore any faint resemblance to the truth, then “demonstrated capacity to nod thoughtfully” would appear on my own immediately under the words “Key strengths”.
But that capacity was tested severely today by a three-hour meeting so laden with jargon and acronyms that I did not understand a single sentence. Without at least a basic understanding of the issues under discussion my normal contribution in meetings – stinging criticism of problems for which I have no accountability and am unlikely to be asked to fix – was impossible. Hence, three hours of non-stop, thoughtful nods, with the end result of muscle soreness that leaves me completely incapable of completing my working day.
It may be that my workplace injury prevents my attendance tomorrow (and now that I know that I can submit my racing tips via my Blackberry, there is little need to come to work at all), so it appears that my further thoughts on workplace jargon must wait until next week.