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反复无常的老板最可怕

所属教程:职场社交

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2016年04月08日

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By far the most difficult boss I’ve ever had was aninspiring, morally upstanding man. I respectedhim and learnt a lot from him. The problem was thatI could never predict how he would respond toanything.

迄今为止,我遇到过的最难相处的老板是一位能够启发他人、为人正直的男士。我很尊敬他,也从他那里学到了很多。问题在于我永远没有办法预测他对任何事情的反应。

Sometimes he would sidle past and say somethingsarcastic about a piece I’d written. At other timeshe would bound up, full of praise. Occasionally he would perch on the edge of my desk and talkas if he valued my opinion. The following day he would revert to glowering and ignore meentirely.

有时候他会悄悄经过,对我写的某篇文章挖苦几句。有时候他会跳起来,对我赞不绝口。偶尔他会坐在我的办公桌沿和我聊天,话里话外好像很看重我的观点似的。第二天他又回到怒目而视的状态,完全无视我的存在。

The very sight of him advancing down the corridor was enough to make me feel anxious. Whenhe was being nice, his face looked the same as when he was horrid and so I started to wonder ifhis praise was ironic. It was most disconcerting.

仅仅看到他从走廊上走过来我就会紧张。他友好的时候和凶恶的时候脸上的表情是一模一样的,这让我开始怀疑他的称赞其实是讽刺。这是最让人难堪的。

I thought of him the other day when I read a piece of research from the University of Michigansuggesting we would far rather have a manager who was horrible all of the time, than one whowas horrible only some of it. When it comes to our bosses, it seems we can cope with more orless anything — save unpredictability.

不久前,当我读到密歇根大学(University of Michigan)的一篇研究论文时,我又想起了他。这篇论文认为,比起一个在某些时候很可怕的管理者,我们宁愿要一个总是很可怕的管理者。对于老板,不论什么事情我们似乎多多少少总能应付——除了反复无常。

The researchers conducted a series of experiments in which they divided students into threegroups and gave them all a job to do. The first group was subjected to constant compliments;the second to constant abuse and the third to a mix of the two. The first group wasn’tstressed at all; the second was mildly so, while the third — the group that didn’t know if theywere going to get sticks or carrots — was by far the most stressed and least happy.

研究人员进行了一系列实验,他们将学生分成三组并指派所有人做一项工作。第一组不断地受到表扬;第二组不断地受到责骂;第三组表扬和责骂兼而有之。第一组完全没有压力;第二组感到一点压力;不知道自己接下来得到的是大棒还是胡萝卜的第三组则是压力最大、最不快乐的一组。

This experiment, written up in the American Academy of Management, reminds me of an earlierstudy in which rats were given electric shocks. One group heard a bell ring to herald each shock;a second group had shocks with no warning. The first group of rats fared more or less fine. Thesecond group, who could not predict the timing of the shocks, developed stomach ulcers.Workers and rats have a lot in common.

这篇由美国管理学会(American Academy of Management)发表的实验报告让我想起了一个更早的实验,那是一个大鼠受到电击的实验。第一组大鼠每次受到电击前都会听到一声铃响;第二组受到电击前则没有任何警示。第一组大鼠的状况总的来讲还好。而那些无法预测电击时机的第二组大鼠则患上了胃溃疡。员工与大鼠有很多相似之处。

Yet this idea that consistency is important is nowhere in the leadership literature.Predictability is considered boring and unglamorous, in a world that reveres creativity anddisruption.

但在有关领导力的文献中,有关领导者行为一致性很重要的观点无处可寻。在这个崇尚创造力和颠覆的世界,可预测性被视为一种无趣和缺乏魅力的特质。

A couple of weeks ago the Harvard Business Review published a blog about the most importanttraits of leaders, as reported by 195 global leaders themselves. These turned out to be a moreor less soppy list of “competencies” including “strong ethics”, “nurtures growth”, “has theflexibility to change opinions” and “is committed to ongoing training”. And so on.Predictability was nowhere on the list.

几周前,《哈佛商业评论》(Harvard Business Review)发布了一篇博文,内容是195名全球领导者自己提出的最重要的领导者特质。这是一张多少有点乏味的“素质”列表,包括“道德观念强”、“注重增长”、“能够灵活改变观点”和“致力于持续培训”等等。可预测性并不在这份列表上。

The only company I can find that explicitly values this is Google. Because it delights incollecting data and measures all leaders constantly, it has found that consistency is one ofthe most important qualities there is. When the boss isn’t consistent, people can’t do theirbest.

我能找到的唯一一家公开看重这一特质的公司是谷歌(Google)。由于谷歌喜欢收集数据并对所有领导者持续做出评估,该公司发现一致性是最重要的特质之一。如果老板前后不一致,员工就无法尽其所能。

Predictability matters at work not just in relation to your boss — but to almost everything.People claim they love jobs in which every day is different, but there is little evidence to backthis up. Instead, studies in the US have shown that workers with unpredictable hours aremore stressed and less happy than those who keep a regular timetable.

在工作中,可预测性的重要性不仅仅是与你的老板有关——而是几乎与一切有关。人们声称他们喜欢每一天都不一样的工作,但没有多少证据能够支持这种说法。相反,美国的多项研究表明,比起那些工作时间规律的员工,工作时间无法预测的员工压力更大,幸福度更低。

If I think of my peers, I would probably tell you that I love working with people who surpriseme. But that isn’t true. I like working with people who interest me, but who do not surprise meat all. One close colleague is dependably always late. Even though I am obsessively punctual,I’ve become so used to his lateness that when last week he turned up early, I wasn’t delighted;I was slightly put out.

说到同事,我很可能会告诉你,我喜欢和能让我惊讶的人共事。但这不是事实。我喜欢的是与让我感兴趣的人共事,根本不是让我惊讶的人。有一位和我关系很近的同事总是迟到。即使我非常看重准时,我也已经非常习惯他迟到,以至于上周他很早就露面的时候我不是很开心;我稍微有点恼火。

And it is not as if consistency is easy. Being consistent is very hard indeed. I know this fromhaving spent a quarter of a century at the coalface of motherhood. When bringing up my fourchildren I have tried to stick to some pretty basic principles that I consider important. Forinstance, that all family members must sit around a table once a day with no computer screens,eating the same thing at the same time. Some evenings I am unyielding in my adherence tothis principle. Yet there I was last week sprawled on the sofa with my son who was eating asupermarket pizza and watching something unsuitable on his iPad, while I both ate andwatched something else.

而且这并不是说保持一致是件容易的事。保持一致实际上非常困难。在做妈妈的“一线”度过25年后,我明白了这一点。在抚养我的4个孩子的时候,我尝试坚持一些我认为很重要的相当基本的原则。比如,所有家庭成员必须每天有一次围着桌子坐下,在同一时间吃着同样的东西,没人盯着电脑屏幕。有一些夜晚我毫不妥协地坚持这一原则。然而上周,我四仰八叉地和我的儿子坐在沙发上,他在吃一块超市里买的披萨,在他的iPad上看一些不适宜的内容,而我吃着别的食物,看着别的东西。

Predictability is the advanced class: unpredictability seems to be the default human condition.

可预测性是高级状态:不可预测性似乎是人类的默认设置。

I’ve just read an article in Psychology Today arguing that we became that way because it madeit harder for other hunter gatherers to take advantage of us in the jungle.

我刚刚读到了《今日心理学》(Psychology Today)的一篇文章,这篇文章主张,我们之所以会变成这样是因为这会让丛林之中的其他狩猎采集者更难以占到我们的便宜。

Maybe, although I suspect we are unpredictable at work because managing is unnatural andwe are weak and capricious. And self-control is not only difficult, it is sadly out of fashion.

可能是这样,不过我怀疑我们在工作中不可预测是因为管理本身就是不自然的,我们本身则既软弱又善变。而且自控不仅很难,还非常可悲地不时髦。


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