A leader’s credo: Power to the peons

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

At age 30, Dave Haynes has worked his way up from mowing lawns, driving a bus and supervising water safety to become an international sales rep for Federal Express.

Now, he’s exploited his longtime status as a “grunt” in The Peon Book, a new guide for clueless bosses who forget what it’s like on the front lines.

Haynes always thought business books “don’t ever give it to managers straight,” so, he wrote one himself. Some Peon highlights:
  1. Peons don’t want to lie to you … but they will to save their jobs. At one job, Haynes’ team had to make a set number of cold calls every day. His manager raised that quota by 10 percent, so Haynes lied about his numbers “to keep her happy,” even though he thought it was more important to take care of his customers.

  2. Peons don’t believe that your door is “always open.” That means you have to go out and solicit feedback … and not shoot the messenger.

  3. Nothing says that you don’t trust your peons like never taking a vacation … or announcing that you are taking one, only to show up to “see how things are going.” It’s insulting. And you’ll always be crabby because you never take vacations.

  4. Peons won’t fight you, they’ll just leave. When a prized employee resigns, are you relieved that she cited family reasons instead of your bogus leadership? Don’t. There’s probably a story she’s not telling you … and it’s just as likely that it was something you didn’t do as something you did do that drove her out.

  5. Peons know they bring in money; do you? Despite the pitfalls of micromanaging (see No. 3), you can’t let yourself become so hands-off that you’re expendable. You cost a lot, while bargain-price peons generate revenue. They know it, and so does the CFO. So, put down the whip, and row.
— Adapted from “Think Like a Peon,” Jory Des Jardins, Fast Company.

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