Good performance?

Most architects that I know pay very little attention to their reputation and visibility within their organisations. They typically consider such activities with contempt.  It is playing politics, it is putting style over substance, it is dishonest.

Dishonest? Yes, dishonest! Why? Because every success is a team effort. Any one person taking credit is disrespecting the other team members.

So what do you do in a culture that recognises and rewards those who glister rather than those who just get on with their work and do an exceptional job. Your choice is stark – play the game, move on, fight or accept it.

If you play the political game then you earn the contempt of your peers and sometimes yourself.

If you accept then you will see those with little talent prosper, they will advance and perpetuate a political system that creates a kakistocracy – rule by the worst and all that this entails.

As one who has fought many times, I cannot recommend it. It is stressful. It will damage your reputation. And support is hard to find among managers who are just trying to survive themselves. A little passive aggressive resistance may be in order – be humble, retain your integrity, give valid praise in public to those who deserve it, counter any undeserved criticism of others and help those with unrecognised talents to find places where they can excel.

Your remaining option is to move on. This may take time since there is little point in moving on to a similar environment. You need to find the right people to work with. In particular, the right manager…

A manager of mine, when he understood what was happening, said “perhaps I am looking in the wrong place”. He realised that he could not rely on the grapevine to provide an accurate picture of performance. The news spread by others is biased, it is politicised, it carries the advertisements of the carriers. He had begun to realise that the formal performance reports of project managers, clients and others were often biased.

He worked out that he needed to get out there and continually and consistently look for himself. He started to take a deeper interest in the capabilities, aspirations, working environment and efforts of his team. Only then did he start to get an accurate picture of the performance of his team. And only then was he able to help them. Only then did he start doing his job as a manager. Only then did he discover the excellence in his team. With this knowledge he was able deploy the team better, grow their capabilities and to start to repair the reputations of his team.

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