So as the dust settles on another general election, each party has some housekeeping to do, but perhaps the first task is the newly elected government having to form a Cabinet. As the days progress, the prime minister has to essentially build a team that he can trust. There will still be some characters that retain their roles – either through proving they’re quite good at what they do or through some kind of blackmail/ witchcraft – and there will be the new blood that may inject some fresh perspective.
Having an effective team means that you can delegate large amounts of your work, which is the bluffer’s ultimate goal. To achieve it, you need to choose carefully to get the right mix of people, and you need to be certain that each has the skills to accomplish the necessary tasks.
Putting the right people on the right teams can be very effective. They can be used as think tanks to solve problems and to generate the new ideas that most bluffers could never generate on their own. They can also source information that you didn’t know was needed, for which of course you will be able to take overall credit. Note the word ‘overall’. The canny bluffer will avoid taking direct credit but will always make a point of going overboard to praise ‘my team’. The great advantage of this is that you can say things about your team that would seem immodest if you said them about yourself.
In an ideal world, every post would be filled with people who are both competent and committed. This is not an ideal world.
When you form a team, be clear about what you expect to be accomplished and talk about how you envisage those involved working together. It is more than a matter of putting the same sort of people together. Teams, like marriages, work best where there are differences as well as similarities; no human being is perfect so it helps when one’s own weaknesses are covered by someone else’s strengths, and vice versa. It is also a bad idea to have a team consisting only of high achievers; there is only room for one big ego per team.
There is a ton of literature on the psychology of teams and the various social roles that are said to exist within the most successful of them. You need not go into too much detail because everyone has their own favourite set of labels and is unfamiliar with everyone else’s. Just develop a homely analogy of your own like, ‘I love tomatoes but you need more than tomatoes to make a salad.’
Your job is to fit the people you have available into the positions you need to fill. Do your best to improve both competence and motivation but accept that you are not going to turn every one of your subordinates into the ideal.
If someone is lacking in either, put them in a position where they can do least harm; if they lack both, get rid of them. The best way to get rid of the useless is to fire them, but this is not always easy – for one thing, bluffers in particular are tender-hearted folk, tolerant of the weaknesses of others because we are aware of the weaknesses in ourselves.The alternative is to transfer them to another department, but your peers are probably on guard – as you should be – against unsolicited lateral transfers of the unwanted.
So the best way to lose demotivated incompetents may be to recommend them for promotion. You would be amazed by how many glittering management careers started this way… or maybe you would not be surprised at all.
For more tips on how to bluff your way through the choppy waters of the manager, grab a copy of Bluffer’s Guide to Management®