Most authors, when writing their acknowledgements, use the opportunity to thank their friends, partner or children for support. Julian Birkinshaw, however, uses his dedication to praise the “bad bosses” he has had over the years – claiming he could not have written this book without them.
It is a known fact that people leave people – as opposed to employers – and so Birkinshaw uses this information, like many “management books” before him, to delve into what is bad management and why is it allowed to happen. The difference? He writes as much as a psychologist as a business consultant, exploring and thinking about this subject as an employee “in the trenches” and finding out what makes them tick; no holds barred.
Speaking passionately of his experiences and using real-life case studies, he provides very practical takeaways for existing and aspiring managers to use in their workplace straight away.
The tone of the book is conversational and engaging, asking challenging questions to the reader such as “do you really understand your employees?” and “do we know how to generate high performance in business?” – encouraging you to stop and really think about your response. By encompassing examples from a variety of businesses around the world, he makes the information accessible to all. Occasionally, a few diagrams and theoretical charts are included to add some real clout – although it should be noted he makes it clear that many management studies ignore the reality of the workplace.
This book is by no means a silver bullet for management and I wouldn’t entirely agree with the blurb description of “radical”. But it does serve as a wake-up call to managers, reminding them of their most important asset – people – and how to engage with them. Easier said than done – but still well worth the read.
Reviewed by Emily Perry, director, PurpleCubed