Ever heard this, “Cause I said so,” an offshoot of the infamous “Do as I say” mantra? Of course, we all have experienced this mini-diatribe usually focused on some type of quasi-instructional act – usually from a parental (or like) unit – typically followed by “or else.”
Many of you have been exposed to the subliminal management concept of “modeling,” which is simply demonstrating the behavior you expect of a subordinate. So, for example, if you want a service customer greeted with the expression “Welcome, we are delighted that you have chosen to use our service center,” you would state that to all the customers you personally greet – hence, modeling the behavior you desire – just makes sense.
As always, there is a different school of thinking and I thought you might want to be exposed to it. I had the occasion to meet Mr. Hurley Bo Doolittle, a long-time service manager and former circus advisor at a multi-line Plymouth-Desoto-Studebaker-Olds-Hummer operation in Bassackerds, SC, who has taken the exact opposite approach to the positive modeling concept.
Doolittle, whose background includes a stint managing a Saturn-Rambler service operation, says the definition of modeling is all wrong. His philosophy is that modeling the positive behavior puts the manager in an awkward position since the manager would have to be perfect every time. “I don’t care who yar,” he noted, “Taint no one zactly perfect, so why would you set urself for garonteed failure up like that – that’s stupid dumb?” I have to admit he had a point.
Doolittle, who thrice won the annual Bassackerds Checkers Tourney, which featured a free ride in a Freightliner to the winner, says the smart manager will model negative behavior so that he or she will never model the incorrect behavior. “How can you screw up bad behavior,” he claimed? Doolittle says he regularly comes to work 10 minutes late, wears shorts with no underwear, and he even yells at customers (calls them yellow Yankees when he really wants to make an impact), to show his employees exactly what he doesn’t want them to do. “I don’t want no mistakes out there, so I do all the bad stuff myself” he told me.
Doolittle says that modeling bad behavior really impacts the employees. “I regularly hear comments like, ‘Dang, you look stupid Doo,’ and that shows me that what I’m doing is really working. When they see me they think, ‘Shoot he’s never here when I need ‘em’, and it helps me get the point across bout attendance for example. Since we ain’t got no overtime, I like the idea of showing off under-time as a bad example. Cool huh, and I ain’t really that smart ya know.”
Doolittle says his negative modeling concept is not his invention. “Naw, I got this idea from my old man. He always said to me, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ He used to do all this stuff that ticked my mother off, then he told me I couldn’t do none of it. I really got the point when my mother whacked his bald head with a frying pan – left a mark I tell ya. I love my old man for showing me what not to do – it was effective modeling and I only got the frying pan once when I burned the house down by smoking corn silk in the loaded laundry room.”
Doolittle got me thinking that management modeling of behavior is a significant part of successful or unsuccessful management. My experience is that individuals naturally emulate the behavior of those in charge unconsciously, without a calculated plan of doing so. Modeling is weighty influence, negative or positive. The bottom line is that managers have to monitor and manage their own behaviors as much their subordinates, in fact, maybe more. That darn Doolittle may have a point …. even though it is bassackerds.