What’s Ricardo Semler got to do with events

Skift Take


Ricardo Semler has sparked a revolution for the theory of business management. He has actually put in practice what tons of authors have just theorized. He walked the walk and showed the world that horizontal management is indeed more effective than any other approach.

Events are about people. Pressure, limited time and resources push us to perform at 100% with no chance to fail. While reading Semler’s inspiring book ‘Maverick‘, I noted down few concepts which I am sure will question the way you tackle team management.

“In the lobby of our headquarters there is a reception desk, but no receptionist […]. Everyone at Semco, even top managers, fetches guests, stand over photocopiers, send faxes, types letters, and dials the phone. We don’t believe in cluttering the payroll with ungratifying, dead end jobs.”

Most of the requests I receive through this blog are of people asking for how to get involved into events. The nature of the business requires hiring lots of temporary staff and that might be a good way to start getting involved.

Now, talking to managers, I ask you, do you hire to exploit and ‘clutter the payroll’ or do you hire to transfer knowledge?

Too many times I’ve seen and been treated as a “disposable” and “photocopier” employee. I think that hiring temps for events should have both a monetary and knowledge reward. The event manager along the way should share tips, inspire, suggest and help young and willing workers, full stop.

“I always smile when executives boast about how participative they are. ‘I want everyone to feel involved’ the say. ‘So I call everybody in, hear what’s on their minds, and only then decide’. What people call participative management is usually just consultative management”

I believe that the most manipulative, mind controlling technique to motivate people is to tell them how you care for their opinion. I’ve heard that statement multiple times but when I came up with my opinion it was completely ignored, not taken account of, plus I quickly figured out it was a way to keep me under control.

True empowerment and responsibility, on the other hand, made me feel like a thinking individual and actually deliver the best financial and non-financial results.

Therefore, if you do care about my opinion, I’d love to put that in practice.

“We don’t want to be a happy family. We want to be a successful business. We’re only concerned with our employees performance on their job, not their personal lives.”

The second most manipulative approach to managing people is to tell them that ‘we are members of the same family’. No thanks. I do have a family and I’d like to keep it out of the business environment.

I find invasive just the thought of a boss telling me that.

Not only should the manager be attentive in not embarking in such approach, but he/she should also guarantee that such behaviour does not occur horizontally among employees. Performance is indeed the most important factor, human touch and understanding is plausible but a motivator or a business approach.

“At Semco we have stripped away the unnecessary perks and privileges, such as executive dining rooms and fancy office furniture, that feed the ego but hurt the balance sheet and distract everyone form the crucial corporate task of making, selling, billing and collecting.”

We all need to work a bit more on our egos, I’ll leave the rest of it for you to comment.