Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Managing the Common Herd" by Julia O'Callaghan

I will be the first to admit that I have some anger management issues. Although I try to keep my rage bottled up inside, sometimes it comes pouring out. It is during those times that Julie O'Callaghan's "Managing the Common Herd: Two Approaches for Senior Management" comes in very handy. It offers two ways of dealing with employees: the iron-fist approach, which involves stern discipline, and the more humane approach, which calls for a more interpersonal means of workplace negotiation.

While the poem is about dealing with employees, its ideas can apply to a multitude of situations. For instance, thinking about this poem definitely helps when working with students. It is very easy to have a jaded outlook on today's youth and to believe that "people are naturally lazy... These people need punishment." However, as the second part of the poem suggests, giving encouragement and showing people that they are valued are incredibly important and will yield more results than mere tyranny.

When a student is running late to class or asks for an extension for a paper, I am sometimes tempted to go with "Theory X." Part of my brain tells me that I should do my best Incredible Hulk impression or use my "don't screw with me or I'll cut you look" (I've been told that it is scary to be on the receiving end of that). However, nine times out of ten, I'll usually take a breath and attempt to figure out what, if anything, is going on in this student's life. While my bs detector sometimes fails me, I would much rather err on the side of being too nice once in a while than going completely ballistic with students. After all, "they're human too."


Anonymous said...

Your "Don't screw with me or I'll cut you" look? I forgot that that was the name of that look, although it's been directed at me many a time :)

Anonymous said...

It didn't really have a formal name, so I had to give it one!