Friday, June 15, 2012

Good Employee - Chapter 3 - The King Maker

Chapter 3

King Makers Not Welcome (No, you are not in charge)

“A house divided against itself cannot stand."- Abraham Lincoln

As a manager, I have found that, inevitably, an employee will be so good at what he does that he eventually feels he is untouchable. Perhaps, he may even believe that he can manage as well or better than his own manager. A common feeling that accompanies these beliefs is that there are several tasks that he will not do because it is beneath his skill level, experience, or station in life. Don’t be this guy. And for heaven’s sake, don’t tell your coworkers, your customers, or your boss you feel this way. It will work out much better for you if you quietly go about your business and find another job. Resign giving two weeks notice and start your new job. Really, that is the best way out. The reason? You are one step away from becoming the most reviled type of employee in any business, in any country – The King Maker.

The King Maker views himself has the “power behind the throne” so to speak. No one likes the power behind the throne. Study history or watch any number of movies involving war, adultery, murder, or betrayal and there is always a King Maker lurking around the throne room, manipulating (in the bad way) events, causing turmoil and heartache. Now try to think of a moment in history or in a movie where there is a power behind the throne who revels in that distinction, and the story has a happy ending. Can’t do it? Neither can I.

I once managed an employee who thought too highly of himself. He actually told me that I didn’t need to do anything but sit in the office and approve payroll because he could handle everything else. I was to give him free reign and he would establish me as a great manager, because he was a “King Maker”. It should be no surprise to you that I have dedicated this chapter to him by entitling it as I did. It should, by this time, be no surprise to you that this guy is no longer employed by me.

Sometimes the greatest detriment to a good business becoming great is a disjointed, unrecognizable direction of travel. Or to paraphrase George Orwell in Animal Farm, One Boss Good, Two Bosses Bad. Even if the King Maker has good intentions there will be the inevitable differences in opinion between him and the manager that will cause a drop in morale, confusion, and an inferior product. If these “collisions” happen too often, the office begins to observe the interplay between the King and the King Maker to see who is going to win. Sometimes wagers are made – but office gambling is a completely different subject. The thing about the King vs. King Maker battle is no one wants to get on the King Maker’s bad side should he defeat the King. And vice versa. This kind of office is a mess.

Make no mistake; there are people in every office that help a manager be successful. They are always excellent, always helpful, always there when you need them, and they always no how to make your customer happy. Though they will establish a manager’s success, they are not King Maker’s. Why? Because King Maker’s generally always make it known that they are the Power Behind the Throne. Now why would they reveal this about themselves? Because the real issue with the King Maker is that he wants to be King himself. That means trouble.

If you feel like a King Maker – kill that feeling immediately or leave. Find your own country and make yourself king. If on the other hand, you enjoy doing your job so well that the entire team and your manager succeeds, then send me your resume. You’re the kind of employee I need.

In an effort to avoid the big battle between the King Maker and himself, the manager will be forced to terminate the King Maker immediately. King Maker’s beware. If you attempt a coup, you will end up unemployed.

Here’s your bullets:

• Succeed because you want to succeed not because of the power you think you will receive.

• If you feel like a King Maker, stop it! Or leave quietly. Try to establish your empire with your manager’s competition. Tear them apart.

• If you feel that your manager’s success is largely attributed to your efforts, more than likely your manager knows it. Revel in your good standing. Do it for yourself. If you need more recognition, the next time your boss asks you what he can do to make your job easier, simply suggest that the staff need to hear when they are doing well. If that doesn’t work stay away from the statements in Chapter 2. Just leave quietly giving two weeks notice.

• Keep in mind that just because you feel like you are the best at doing your job does not mean you can manage better than your boss. Unless of course your current boss is a former King Maker. If that is the case, leave or resolutely endeavor to outlast him – because it is relatively easy to do.

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