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managers where the suggestions made all seem like common wisdom
with little evidence that any of the suggestions actually work. He's tried
every suggestion with very poor results and wonders how managers can
be so lacking in information about what really works. With the help of
the statistician at work, he has begun to read the middle management
research literature and is surprised to find that many of the studies sup-
port the very approaches that he has found not to work. The statistician
has helped him separate the well done from the poorly done studies.
Most of the poorly done articles, and there were many of them, were
mainly anecdotal or presented common sense solutions that turned out
to be, on the whole, incorrect.
The statistician found some research articles on the Internet and in
the virtual library at a local university that provided some help. She indi-
cated that the methodologies varied in sophistication, but set aside 20
articles for Jack to read on various issues that seemed relevant for the pro-
blems he has been facing. Most of the articles were very modest and
made reasoned and careful suggestions that were never more than the
data suggest. At first he was annoyed that the articles didn't tell him what
to do, but as he read the literature reviews in each article and began to
see that many other researchers had done similar studies and had come to
similar conclusions, he began to see that the carefully done studies offered
a wealth of information and provided, through the literature reviews,
numerous other sources for him to consult.
As he read the literature, many of the things he has been taught about
management and the common wisdom in his field about how best to
supervise workers were discounted by the research. To begin with, he
discovered that his way of orienting workers, leaving them pretty much
on their own to read and then ask questions, was not supported by the
research. He also failed to use the Internet and email to help workers
resolve problems quickly and when they were most pressing. He had
failed to set a clear standard for work, one which he holds all workers to,
believing instead that one must individualize workers and accept each
worker's strengths and weaknesses and the uneven work that results. His
management was much too clinical with little actual mentoring or teach-
ing. He almost never saw actual examples of direct work with patients
and used the worker's case notes or reports to determine effectiveness,
both of which, according to the research, are often misleading or just
plain incorrect. He tried to be a buddy to everyone, thinking that it
would ease the power differential between him and his workers when all
it did was reduce his authority. He didn't use team work correctly and,
rather than the workers' feeling cooperative togetherness, they felt in
competition with one another.
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