Archives For Mortimer R. Feinberg

“Where is the promise? It is within you and within your capacity to deliver. Peter Drucker, author and management consultant, said, ‘Regarding the future, there are no certainties, only expectations.’ No one can guarantee you a future, only an opportunity for you to develop your own future.”

~ Mortimer R. Feinberg, Ph.D., Effective Psychology For Mangers, (1965)

How do I inspire a good man who lacks confidence in himself?

A straight frontal attack—“Come on, boy, pull yourself together. Stop going around here like a mollycoddle. Be more assertive.”—won’t work. This guy will say, “Yeah, my wife tells me the same thing.” He may be more confident for a week or so, but then he’s worse than before.

First, make sure that this man is capable. Then, assuming he is a man of ability, approach him on this basis: …

~ Mortimer R. Feinberg, Ph.D., Effective Psychology For Mangers, (1965)

How can I tell if an executive has real potential for top management? What are the signs of success?

  1. Dedication. Just plain, sheer devotion.
  2. Competitiveness. Good executives can’t stand to lose. They are interested only in winning.
  3. Honesty. How honest is he with himself? How honest is he with you?
  4. Realism. He has his feet on the ground. He doesn’t just dream about how great he’s going to be someday. If he’s always seeing the big picture and never the details, he’s in trouble. The good executive is looking at how he’s going to get where he wants to be. He is almost compulsive about the little things, the short steps, the pennies.
  5. Maturity. He knows that his own future rests on what happens to other people. He can fire a man who does not contribute to the well-being of the organization.

Finally a good potential president is able to handle multiple pressures. The president of a large dry cleaning and laundry company in New York puts it this way: “Anyone can do a good job if you give them one problem at a time and all the time he needs to solve it. But when I see a man unwilling to pay attention to anything else until he gets his one little problem solved, I worry. That kind of man never knows there’s a fire next door until the whole company burns down.”

~ Mortimer R. Feinberg, Ph.D., Effective Psychology For Mangers, (1965)

How do I fire a long-time associate, a good friend? What do I tell him, and how do I break the bad news?

It’s an impossible situation, and I have never seen anyone handle it well. Most of the time the president avoids the issue and continues to hang on to his friend. The president rationalizes: “My old friend has 25 years in the company. How can I do this to him?”

A poor manager keeps the executive in his old job and lets him die there. A better manager transfers his old friend to a position of less responsibility, putting him out to pasture, and prays for a resignation. The smart manager does the deed and gets it out of the way so he can worry about more important matters.

Firing an old friend is a bloody mess. It will make you sick, and you won’t sleep well for weeks. But this is your job. How does a general respond when he has to send out a platoon knowing it isn’t coming back? The general has to take the hill at all costs. He sacrifices the platoon in order to win the battle.

~ Mortimer R. Feinberg, Ph.D., Effective Psychology For Mangers, (1965)

The most mature managers—those who are most respected by their subordinates—recognize the individual differences among employees. They know that some men are vain, some are “pushy,” some are too ambitious, some are maddeningly creative; while others are mentally weak, lazy, immature, or incompetent. However, the successful manager never tries to change these differences. On the contrary, he tries only to capitalize on his knowledge of subordinates. He plays not the role of God, but the role of the counselor and coach; when the need is apparent, he is cold and without conscience in dismissing the hopeless cases.

~ Mortimer R. Feinberg, Ph.D., Effective Psychology For Mangers, (1965)

Face the fact, pure and simple—you can’t change people.

Try as you might, you will never change a man’s personality to make him conform to your conception of what he should be.

There are only three ways to change a man’s personality. There’s religious conversion, there’s psychoanalysis, and there’s brain surgery. Since you are neither a minister, a psychotherapist, nor a brain surgeon, you might as well stop wasting your time.

You are a manager in a tough, competitive business. Therefore, instead of vainly trying to “build” a staff, make the best of what you’ve got. Try to develop the potential that exists on your present staff. It must be there, or you wouldn’t have hired those people in the first place.

In my personal observations of top executives, both good and not-so-good, I find that the most successful men are those who realize a basic, fundamental proposition: that they must work almost entirely within the framework of other people’s strengths and weaknesses, abilities and deficiencies. They make the best of what they’ve got; they know how to handle people on their staff who, in turn, must handle people themselves.

~ Mortimer R. Feinberg, Ph.D., Effective Psychology For Mangers, (1965)

Your unconscious prevents you from success.

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So great is the human need for love and approval that a man will even deceive himself, if necessary, rather than face the fact that he might not deserve it. Undisguised, his behavior might not always merit approval. He may do things that are inconsiderable, unkind, or even downright cruel. But rather than face himself in an unkind light, even to his own eyes, his unconscious mind will protect his image of himself. Thus:

  1. He rationalizes. He says, “I did it because . . . ,” providing good and substantial reasons for his behavior.
  2. He projects. He disowns the fault, seeing it as the other fellow’s problem.
  3. He displaces. He blames someone else for his own faults that he cannot except.
  4. He compensates. He stretches himself in one area when he has failed in another.

~ Mortimer R. Feinberg, Ph.D., Effective Psychology For Managers, (1965)

As Dr. Arnold J. Toynbee, the philosophic historian, once said, “No human beings have got very far in the exploration of the spiritual universe. The new worlds with whose life it is now most urgent for us to make contact are the spiritual worlds within ourselves.”

A self-analysis can pay rich dividends in at least three ways:

  1. Increased managerial effectiveness and impact on others.
  2. Better personal fulfillment.
  3. Greater personal fulfillment.

“Only as you know yourself,” says Bernard M. Baruch, “can your brain serve you as a sharp and efficient tool. Know your own failings, passions, and prejudices so you can separate them from what you see.” (This is a serious problem for most people. They daydream of spectacular achievements far into the future, making the day-to-day improvements seem of little importance. But without the small, continuous, day-to-day improvements, the spectacular achievements of the future will never be reached.)

~ Mortimer R. Feinberg, Ph.D., Effective Psychology For Mangers, (1965)

How Can I Tell A Loyal Employee That He Has Been Passed Over For Promotion?

I know of no easy way.

If he is an older man, be sincere. Say, “Frank, I made the decision. I’m sorry you didn’t get the job. I know this may be the last opportunity you’ll have for that job. But I’m the boss, and I had to make a tough decision.”

If he doesn’t ask “Why?” you’re home safe. He’s let you off the hook. If he asks for the reasons why, try once more to put him off: “A combination of reasons led me to make the decision, and I’m not at liberty to reveal them. I have been asked to operate in confidence, and you just have to accept that there’s nothing either of us can do about it. “

~ Mortimer R. Feinberg, Ph.D., Effective Psychology For Mangers, (1965)