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September 17 , 2008

Quicksand and Mud

Managing People, Knowledge, Resources & Relationships in the 21st Century


This new management guide has been developed for the recently appointed manager, the recently promoted manager, and for all those wishing to be a better manager. It focuses on the four key elements you have to manage – People, Knowledge, Resources, and Relationships, by providing new techniques, models, and ideas to help you stay on track and deliver against agreed objectives. One of your most critical skills is deciding on the extent of your involvement in managing issues. Too much, and you run the risk of being, or being seen to be, a micro-manager, or your focus is drawn away from your real job. Too little, and you run the real risk of not achieving your goals, and failing as a manager. Having sound processes in managing people, knowledge, resources and relationships will make it easier for you to provide the right level of guidance and support. The concept of Quicksand and Mud reflects a commonsense approach, and can be summarized as follows. 1. If your people are in Quicksand i.e. either personal or organizational issues are beyond their capability, and which carry major risks, then you have to go in and get them out – short, sharp involvement, which utilizes all your skills and experience to get them back on track. 2. If your people have issues brought about by their lack of effort, focus, care or attention, be very, very, very careful how you get involved in this MUD situation. Many managers who have come from a particular specialist stream (accounting, engineering, IT, HR etc.) love nothing better than to put their boots on, and get into the mud with their staff. The real danger is that you will get stuck with them, and won’t have the time to focus on your own job and responsibilities. 3. The ideal is to dip in and out of your people’s workspace, asking the right questions, providing guidance and support, and through this awareness be able to make the right decisions on your level of involvement. The practical knowledge, examples, and suggested approaches are all there to help you make sure that, with timely and proper development, your need to venture into quicksand is well thought through, and the temptation to step into the mud is avoided, by having sound management processes which support prevention rather than cure.
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