Saturday 22 February 2014

No, You Can't Use "Businessballs"; Thoughts On My Management Diploma

Most people who know me are by now sick of hearing about the management and leadership diploma I'm doing, nearly as sick as I am of talking about it. (And yet, I'm still writing this post.) It does appear to have dragged on somewhat. As I near the end, I'm pondering the question "Was it worth it?"

When you ask this question aloud, the instinctive response of the hearer seems to be "Yes, of course it was! Look how much you've learned." This would probably be a good reaction to anyone other than me. I don't know why, but I have an instinctive tendency to place myself on the opposite side of any argument being had.

(Actually, I do know why, at least partly. My father's childhood nickname was "Arbut", acquired through his habit of saying in reply to any line of thought put forward by anyone in his vicinity: "Ah, but..." Fortunately he married a woman blessed with infinite patience and pacifying skills - my mother - otherwise family dinners in our house would have consisted of hours of ongoing wrangling. You may correctly surmise, however, that I take after one parent more than the other.)

Either that, or I'd just really like it if someone agreed with me. It occurs to me that a large part of the rage I have swilling around in the washing machine that is the inside of my skull is due to the fact that I really can't think of any occasion in the past rotten three years at work that anyone possessed of any authority has said to me "Actually, this is crap, and you are quite right to be angry about it". It would just be nice, that's all I'm saying.

Anyway, was the management diploma worth it? Perhaps the rose-tinted spectacles are kicking in as I near the end, or perhaps I just can't face the thought that £400 of spending plus any number of dives I didn't go on and Saturday afternoons spent in Northumbria Uni's library (an excellent library, by the way) was all for nothing.

I don't really think it was all for nothing. Despite fearing that the course was pitched too high for me - it's aimed at middle to senior managers, whereas I've never held management responsibility in my life - I have learned a lot about how management and leadership are supposed to work, which is a good thing. (Although it does bring with it the temptation to march into the boss's office, thump a copy of Armstrong's "How to Be a Even Better Manager" onto the desk, and state "See, it says here you're doing it wrong".) I do hope that I'll manage to apply these principles at some point in my career.

And yes, there is a sense of achievement. I've written more essays for this than I did for my MA, albeit my MA dissertation was 15,000 words long, so it's probably even in terms of the amount of verbiage I have produced.

My main feeling really is that this was rotten timing. I moved house in September 2012, went through a redundancy selection process in the nightmarish month of January 2013, spent February and March 2013 trying to do all the work I didn't manage to do in January because of the redundancy process, then started writing the course assignments in April rather than January. I've never really managed to catch up with the deadlines since. I've also spent the past 18 months with either the monkey of moving house on my shoulder, the monkey of redundancy on my shoulder, or the monkey of uncompleted coursework on my shoulder. Those are some heavy monkeys, not to mention the squawking parrot of too much of the work I get paid to do following me around. (This metaphor is getting out of hand.)

On the plus side, I will at least get a blogpost out of this; when the dust has settled, I might finally get round to writing that "Management Styles in Game of Thrones" article I've been threatening for a while. As ever, watch this space!

PS the title is a quote from the course tutor, on what online sources we were and weren't allowed to use for our assignments. I concur with him in the interests of academic rigour, but if you want a non-serious and educational look at the amazing world of work, here you go: Businessballs.

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