The Ironic Manager Blog

An Ironic Perspective on the World of Work

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Dear Recruiter, why should I take this job?

Dear Recruiter, why should I take this job?

Dear Recruiter

I was at my desk, caught up in the flow of work. Really feeling I was moving forward with the problem. Getting close to some innovative solutions. Motivated and focused.

And then the phone rang.

It was you. You told me about this wonderful opportunity. A job very similar to mine at a fantastic company. One that had an amazing culture. An incredible product. Something I could be passionate about. Something that would make my life more meaningful.

But would it?

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How To Get A Good Date (or a better job)

How To Get A Good Date (or a better job)

Have you ever tried online dating? Or spent hours scouring the internet looking for a new job? Neither is particularly fun. Or, it turns out, particularly efficient.

How We Date Online

In The Upside of Irrationality, Dan Ariely examines the way in which online dating works. It's a fascinating read. And one the recruitment and HR industries could learn from.

To register for an online dating site, you provide some searchable information:

  • Basic Demographics: e.g. age, location, income
  • Personal Data: values, attitudes, lifestyle
  • Other: a short bio and picture

All of this can be and is used to find and contact a possible match. People enter some preferred criteria into a search engine. Press enter. And those that match pop up. The next step is trying to see if any are interested in meeting up.

Dan Ariely illustrates just how disappointing the experience is. He questions the reductionist nature of the process. Can a human be adequately captured through checklists and multiple-choice forms? Are they not more complex than that?

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Should We Really Hate Recruiters?

Should We Really Hate Recruiters?

Recruiter bashing. It's a blood sport. Time and time again, we hear terrible stories. The recruiter lavishes love on the candidate. Then he doesn't get the job. Suddenly, the recruiter is pimpernel-esque in his movements. The candidate gets frustrated at the agent's sudden lack of availability.

Or, if the job is landed, the client gets pissed off with the poor quality of the hire. Hasn't got what he was promised as the employee needs a lot of training. Or the employee walks out for a different role after a month.

But is recruiter bashing fair?

Many recruiters suggest it is a few bad apples behind these stories. Or they point out how hard it is to be a recruiter. How competitive. How hard they have to work. Which means the service isn't always great. Well, boo hoo. We all work hard. Just because it's a tough job isn't an excuse for terrible service. In fact, that excuse will piss your potential clients and candidates off. You need to be better than that.

So what's the truth? Are some recruiters great or is the whole industry broken?

I wanted to find out. To look at the recruitment industry with external eyes. To employ my critical perspective on leadership, management, and organisations to see if it can help articulate and make sense of the relationship between recruiters, clients, and candidates.

This is the result.

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Engagement isn't working. Here's why.

Engagement isn't working. Here's why.

We are the most disengaged people in the history of work!

We are disengaged because of perceived poor leadership and bad management. The figures correlate quite well.

  • 86% of employees believe there is a leadership crisis
  • 85% of employees are disengaged
  • 75% of employees say their boss is the worst part of their job

This costs the U.S. economy $860 billion annually. And that's a conservative figure. It might be as much as $1.06 trillion. 

But what's $200 billion between friends? 

Note, these figures only refer to the U.S.A. Globally, the figure is in the trillions. 

You want evidence? 

Things are slowly getting worse. We've become static. Locked into leadership, management and organisational theories and practices that have no place in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. 

It's not really managers' and leaders' faults. They are generally decent people. But they've been trapped into following outdated ideas and theories. And we don't know how to get out of them. As Jeffrey Pfeffer writes,

The enormous resources invested in leadership development have produced few results. Estimates of the amount spent on it range from $14 billion to $50 billion a year in the United States alone.

So, what to do? It's a big task and some difficult truths need to be processed.

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Culture eats strategy for breakfast! Doesn't it?

Culture eats strategy for breakfast! Doesn't it?

Peter Drucker once said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". Or maybe it was lunch? Perhaps even dinner?

It is, or course, apocryphal. Ducker never said it. It has been repeatedly misattributed to him for years. The only person we know for sure that wrote it was Mark Fields, of the Ford Motor Company, in 2006. Because he stuck it on his office wall and people saw it there. 

But what does it mean? Was it relevant when Drucker supposedly said it? And is it still relevant now?

Answering these questions is important. To explain why it's important, I'd like to turn to Jeffrey Rothfeder's incisive article on the Volkswagon scandal. In it, while paraphrased slightly, he writes:

For decades, Volkswagen has practiced a management style that imposes rigid goals and punishes middle- and lower-level employees who are unable to keep up with the pace. Executives formulate bold strategic objectives and timelines, with little input from others. Rank-and-file employees, pressured by the expectations placed on them, try to deliver at all costs. Intimidation at every level, which creates a borderline, or sometimes over the borderline, unethical culture.

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Can We Help You?

The Ironic Manager seriously rethinks how organisations work at the most fundamental level and offers a variety of solutions for businesses struggling to cope with the ambiguity and stresses inherent to contemporary organisational conditions of constant change.

Richard has been helping businesses and people deal with leadership, management, communication, technology and change for over twenty years through his training, coaching, speaking and consulting services. 

His innovative research is highly regarded by world-leaders in management and leadership. 

Maybe Richard can help you?

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Over twenty years helping people managing change understand why resistance happens and develop quality vital communication skills that aid successful business transformation.


Research recognised as exceptional by world-leaders in the fields of power, leadership and organisational change, receiving considerable praise for its originality, depth and rigour.


Extensive training, coaching and mentoring experience in professional development in well-known organisations, governments and business schools across the world.


Consulting on change, transformation, culture, organisational narrative, innovation and creativity, and communications to private and public sector organizations and entities.

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