He's been an employee, he's been a boss, he's been a consultant to some of the biggest companies in the world, and he's seen it all. In his new book Workarounds that Work: How to Conquer Anything that Stands in Your Way at Work, Russell Bishop provides something very uncommon: common sense.
In it, you get concentrated wisdom on a topic that no one gets instructed about in school but everyone should: how to motivate a team, how to turn detractors into advocates, how to handle a difficult boss -- in short, how to deal with human beings in the workplace (and beyond).
Moreover, people are often just thrown into their first jobs and expected to know what to do. In business school, they may teach you how to read a balance sheet, forecast earnings and write a business plan. But do they tell you the nitty gritty of how to run an efficient meeting, how to manage yourself so you have time to do what really matters, how to prioritize tasks, how to deal with criticism and opposition constructively, or how to turn around a stubborn colleague? This is information that's invaluable to someone getting a first job, to long-time employees, to managers and entrepreneurs starting a venture. Basically it's a cheat sheet for getting this stuff right the first time.
What I really like about the book are the fun little stories and anecdotes where people demonstrate these ideas and accomplish the seemingly impossible in real-life situations: turning around a stubborn boss, convincing an expert of your point of view while keeping him happy, convincing a supplier that wants to shut down its business to keep supplying you. If you think it can't be done, here's proof that it can -- and that you can do it, too.
Here are some of the snippets that I found really useful from the book:
- The 'Control, Influence, Respond' model of dealing with any situation.
- People do things for their reasons, not your reasons
- Accountability: own the goal, own the process
- How you frame the problem is the problem (from Irwing Carasso)
- People don't like changes made to them, but don't mind changes made by them. Just be sure to give them criteria with oversight (p190, from Michael Winston).
- The Email rules: worth the price of admission all by itself. For example, use clear subject lines with abbreviations to save time and increase readership: RR, RO, BD, SU, EOM, FYI
- Section on meetings is pure gold: how to run a meeting; hold weekly reviews instead of meetings; have a central database of weekly progress reports
Below please find a brief, informative interview with Russell Bishop on some of the highlights of the book.