Corporate Punishment By James Adonis

by Anthony Fensom
13 COMPETITION We have two copies of Corporate Punishment for WIFM readers. To apply, please send an email by 30 November to:

On trial for alleged sins resulting from the global financial crisis, Western managers now face more serious charges: potential “death sentences” for the abuse of management clichés. In Corporate Punishment, James Adonis condemns the perpetrators of these crimes against the English language.

An employee-engagement consultant, Sydney-based Adonis has compiled a list of common business sayings that will have managers and employees cringing, crying or laughing. Including common clichés such as “There’s no ‘I’ in team”, “Time is money,” and the all-time favourite “It’s nothing personal, just business,” Adonis builds a convincing case for consigning many management theories to the dustbin of corporate history.

“One of the most common clichés is ‘employees are our greatest asset.’ Anyone who has been a manager for even a single day will know that half of them are liabilities! Unlike a car, desk or computer, we don’t own employees, and they can walk away at any time.

“The real asset is the relationship between the manager and the employee. Surveys have found that employees who have close relationships with their direct supervisors are two and a half times more likely to enjoy their jobs than those without good relationships.”

The danger of relying on clichés is that managers fail miserably in implementing them, undermining performance, Adonis argues.

“There’s all these HR buzzword phrases like ‘total quality management,’ ‘performance appraisals’ and ‘change management’ which briefly come into vogue and that have been proven to have no value. One magazine publishes it, then another, and before you know it all the corporate HR departments are frantically trying to implement them,” he said.

Japan has its own particular challenges for Western managers, but Adonis says there are some basics in handling a diverse workplace.

“The manager of old would stamp his authority immediately on entering a new workplace. The manager of the future doesn’t do that—he or she meets up with the staff individually first, finding out all about them and how they like to be managed, before addressing the whole group. It’s the collaborative approach that works best.”

  • - People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers (Adonis says this should be “People leave jobs for reasons controllable by managers”)
  • - Management is not a popularity contest
  • - It’s not what you know; it’s who you know
  • - Treat people how you’d like to be treated
  • - If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
  • - Work smarter, not harder
  • - The customer is always right
  • - Think outside the box
  • - Time is money, money is time
  • - Under-promise and over-deliver