The Peon Book

How to Manage Us

David Haynes (Author) | Dave Haynes (Author)

Publication date: 04/01/2004

The Peon Book
  • Not written by an "expert"-learn from a living, breathing employee what does and doesn't work to get him motivated and productive
  • Funny, irreverent, fast moving, and written in a direct, in-your-face style
  • Packed with real-life examples that show the actual, sometimes unintended, effects of management actions on employees

Management books are traditionally written by industry "experts": scholars, consultants, senior managers. They're writing about how to manage workers, but none of these experts really understands the viewpoint of the average worker, the regular grunt in the trenches-the peon. Peons are the ones affected when a manager decides to manage-in-one-minute, to move somebody's cheese, to try that fifth discipline. Rather than consult some expert, why not go to the source, and ask the peons? Who better to teach you how to train a dog than the dog himself? And who better to tell you how to manage than one of those who are being managed? The Peon Book gives managers the perspective they've been lacking. Author and self-proclaimed Chief Executive Peon Dave Haynes' sole, powerful source of expertise is that he has been managed in different companies and in different industries, and he knows what worked-and what failed catastrophically. In irreverent, straight-talking terms, Haynes tells managers what they really need to do to make their employees motivated, committed, and productive-and it's not memorizing yet another "technique" or "strategy" or "discipline." Haynes writes in a common sense, easy-to-read style that is both witty and wise. Every boss can benefit, and every employee can empathize with the words in The Peon Book. "The inability to empathize can be a real speed bump on the road to a trusting, personal relationship with your employees. So how are you supposed to show more empathy? I take issue with management books that give you a phrase to say to show empathy like 'I understand,' or 'I know what you mean,' or that say that by rephrasing a statement you can show empathy. Don't use some coined phrase to show empathy, just mentally put yourself in our shoes. Sometimes it's just a matter of remembering what it's like to have to get all those reports turned in on a Friday. Or remembering what it's like to have to ask for time off. Or remembering what it's like to be the new guy on the job, and have a hard time remembering everything. Do you see the key concept I'm getting at? Empathy = remembering. Who said you'd never use math in the real world?"

  • Not written by an "expert"-learn from a living, breathing employee what does and doesn't work to get him motivated and productive
  • Funny, irreverent, fast moving, and written in a direct, in-your-face style
  • Packed with real-life examples that show the actual, sometimes unintended, effects of management actions on employees

Read more and meet author below

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Overview

  • Not written by an "expert"-learn from a living, breathing employee what does and doesn't work to get him motivated and productive
  • Funny, irreverent, fast moving, and written in a direct, in-your-face style
  • Packed with real-life examples that show the actual, sometimes unintended, effects of management actions on employees

Management books are traditionally written by industry "experts": scholars, consultants, senior managers. They're writing about how to manage workers, but none of these experts really understands the viewpoint of the average worker, the regular grunt in the trenches-the peon. Peons are the ones affected when a manager decides to manage-in-one-minute, to move somebody's cheese, to try that fifth discipline. Rather than consult some expert, why not go to the source, and ask the peons? Who better to teach you how to train a dog than the dog himself? And who better to tell you how to manage than one of those who are being managed? The Peon Book gives managers the perspective they've been lacking. Author and self-proclaimed Chief Executive Peon Dave Haynes' sole, powerful source of expertise is that he has been managed in different companies and in different industries, and he knows what worked-and what failed catastrophically. In irreverent, straight-talking terms, Haynes tells managers what they really need to do to make their employees motivated, committed, and productive-and it's not memorizing yet another "technique" or "strategy" or "discipline." Haynes writes in a common sense, easy-to-read style that is both witty and wise. Every boss can benefit, and every employee can empathize with the words in The Peon Book. "The inability to empathize can be a real speed bump on the road to a trusting, personal relationship with your employees. So how are you supposed to show more empathy? I take issue with management books that give you a phrase to say to show empathy like 'I understand,' or 'I know what you mean,' or that say that by rephrasing a statement you can show empathy. Don't use some coined phrase to show empathy, just mentally put yourself in our shoes. Sometimes it's just a matter of remembering what it's like to have to get all those reports turned in on a Friday. Or remembering what it's like to have to ask for time off. Or remembering what it's like to be the new guy on the job, and have a hard time remembering everything. Do you see the key concept I'm getting at? Empathy = remembering. Who said you'd never use math in the real world?"

  • Not written by an "expert"-learn from a living, breathing employee what does and doesn't work to get him motivated and productive
  • Funny, irreverent, fast moving, and written in a direct, in-your-face style
  • Packed with real-life examples that show the actual, sometimes unintended, effects of management actions on employees

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - David Haynes

Dave Haynes has been a lifeguard, a telemarketer (the real obnoxious kind), a school bus driver, a marketing professional, a "pool guy," and a salesperson. He is the publisher and one of the writers for "TheArizoner," a humorous email column.



Visit Author Page - Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes has been a lifeguard, a telemarketer (the real obnoxious kind), a school bus driver, a marketing professional, a "pool guy," and a salesperson. He is the publisher and one of the writers for "TheArizoner," a humorous email column.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Get Trustworthy

Chapter 2: Get Real

Chapter 3: Get Personal

Chapter 4: Get in the Trenches

Chapter 5: Get Feedback

Chapter 6: Get Organized

Conclusion: To Change or Not to Change

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Excerpt

The Peon Book

Preface: The Peon Book

image

One day my boss pulled me into her office. We had just seen some people on our team leave the company due to basic unhappiness, and the boss asked me for . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .my take on what was going on. Why is everybody unhappy? Why is employee morale so low? We work in a large company with great benefits and pension plans; why are these people leaving? Could it be that we hired the wrong people, or is it something that is going on here at work?

I was caught somewhat off guard by the questions, so I told my boss that I would think about it and get back to her. While sucking in fumes from other cars during my rush hour commute home, I started to note in my mind the things that my company could do to help people be happier, more motivated, and more dedicated in their jobs. The next morning, I woke up early and started to jot down those reasons. I came up with quite a long list, and before long I said to myself, “I could write a freaking book about all the things this company could do better.” So, I started to write a book.

I soon realized that the problems that existed in my company were the same problems we had at my previous workplace. After thinking about it a little further, I realized that in fact these problems were common in almost all the organizations in which I had been involved. The funny thing is that most of them weren’t really problems; they were merely situations in which everyone was focused on the wrong things. Specifically, it seemed that while management’s intentions were good, they still got results the opposite of those intend-ed—because management focused on the wrong things.

For example, it used to drive me nuts that managers would come in with these great, gung ho programs to get us going, viii but would then neglect some of the fundamental issues that really hindered their ability to lead and our desire to follow. That is like putting supreme gasoline in my old clunker truck—better gas alone is not going to help my car run better. Many other, fundamental issues need to be addressed before the high performance fuel is going to make a difference.

I assume that the reason so many managers focus on the wrong thing has to do with the fact that they are getting their information from the wrong sources. Just as many people who make decisions about marketing a product have never talked to a customer, many managers get their ideas without ever talking to their employees.

I intend to change that. Unlike most other management/self-help book on bookshelves today, this book is written by a peon. It will allow you to see the world through the eyes of an insider, rather than those of some outsider.

Some may ask, Why the word peon? Why not valued team member or synergistic contributor? The word peon originally described a certain class of people; some would say that it still does. However, I would argue that peonage is a state of mind. It is a situation in which we feel like we have no control over what is being done. We feel powerless. We are just doing what the boss tells us.

Some may feel that way at work. Others may feel powerful at work, and then become a peon when they get home. You may think that a company owner or CEO is not a peon, but if you ask those people, they’ll tell you that they feel like a peon ix in relation to their creditors or shareholders. Because so many relationships exist in society, it is safe to say that each one of us, in some capacity or another, is a peon. Don’t be afraid of it; it’s not a bad thing. Embrace your inner peon. It is part of life. It is the way our societies are set up.

However, because each of us is a peon in some form or another, we can also conclude that each of us is a manager in some form or another. We are a manager in the sense that someone else likely feels they are our peon. Possibly you are a peon at work all day but then, when you get home, you are the president of your homeowners association. Maybe you make no decisions at work, but when you get home you make all the decisions for yourself and your spouse.

If peonage is a state of mind, so is Manager—the kind with a capital M. It is human nature to become a capital M manager once responsibility has been placed on one’s shoulders; one has to be much more focused and aware in order to become a lowercase m manager. This book is about helping you become a lowercase m manager. Why would you want to do that? Because it will help you develop a relationship with your peons that inspires them to be happy, and happy employees are productive employees. They are employees that feel loyal to your company. They are employees that stay.

Unlike traditional boring management books, I have written this book in a funny, lighthearted way. You shouldn’t fall asleep reading this book nor get to the end of a chapter and say to yourself, “Okay, now what did I just read?” It can also come across as a bit sarcastic or mean. That is intentional, because that is how we, as your employees, often feel. The sarcasm comes from frustration. You may not think that your employees feel like peons, or that you are one of those Managers; however, it still exists in people’s minds. They still feel like peons.

I am not the only person who feels this way. If you really want an insight into how your employees feel, read this book. As I stated earlier, the issues I noticed in my company exist at almost all the organizations in which I have worked, from mom-and-pop to Fortune 500 companies. Chances are, if one of your peons accidentally picked up this book and started reading it, they would start saying to themselves, “Oh, yeah. My manager is like this” or “I’ve had a manager just like that at a previous job.” All organizations have a Management-peon structure in place. I’m giving you the chance to make it, instead, a peon-management relationship. Take advantage of it.


Acknowledgments

I’d like to first thank Drex and Quin for giving me the confidence to do this, and for setting a powerful example of walking the talk when it comes to following your dreams. You are both brass elephants. As Quin showed me, pursuit of your life’s destiny starts with a simple choice. You both inspire us all to live the spirit of FDM.

Second, I’d like to personally thank all the staff at Berrett-Koehler Publishers for taking a chance on some no-name goofball. Steve, thanks for establishing an organization where people can make choices based on moral obligations. And Jee-van, thanks for your desire to instigate social change from the inside.

I would also like to thank God for being kind enough to bless me with talents. I only hope that He is satisfied with how I am developing them.

And last but most, I’d like to thank my beautiful wife, Lorette, and my wonderful children. You are my inspiration for everything I do. You have always helped me keep things in the right perspective and to see the world with a different eye.

Dave Haynes
Phoenix
January 2004

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