Networking for People Who Hate Networking
Managing for People Who Hate Managing
Devora Zack, MBA '94
Ever get the feeling that networking books and advice are aimed at people who can instantly turn on an incessant stream of
small talk, never tire of shaking hands, and hosted several thousands of their closest friends at their last birthday party? Ever
feel you’re a networking loser because you didn’t become pals with everyone on your last flight?
In Networking for People Who Hate Networking, author and management consultant Devora Zack debunks “traditional networking truisms” like these: “Never eat alone.” “Contact one person on your network every day.” “Attend every networking event.” “Be aggressive — even if it feels uncomfortable.”
According to Zack, most networking books are written for extreme extroverts: outwardly focused people who thrive in large groups. They constitute about 30 percent of the population and represent one end of the extrovert-introvert spectrum. The rest of us fall elsewhere on the continuum: extreme introverts, who are reflective and more comfortable on their own, and “centroverts,” who have both extrovert and introvert traits.
“Most of us have just been following the wrong rules,” says Zack, who for 15 years taught a Johnson leadership skills workshop on networking. Introverts and centroverts who try to abide by conventional networking guidelines end up burned out and frustrated, she says.
People who aren’t extroverts are entirely capable of making meaningful connections, but should aim for quality rather than quantity (instead of collecting a stack of business cards, focus on the people with whom you feel a genuine affiliation). She offers a host of useful pointers, such as taking occasional time out from networking to re-energize, or volunteering for a task at a networking event to focus on a mission and have something to talk about.
Insightful, funny, educational, and reassuring to those of us with fewer than 5,000 Facebook friends, Zack’s book has been translated into 10 languages, and is still being reprinted two years after its initial publication. She says she is gratified to receive letters and e-mails from readers who finally realize that there’s nothing wrong with them.
Zack starts off her second book, Managing for People Who Hate Managing, with a startling finding: In a recent study of 150 corporate leaders conducted by publisher Berrett-Koehler, only 43 percent said that they were comfortable as managers, and only 32 percent actually enjoyed managing.
Managing is a greatness that is often thrust upon those who may be brilliant practitioners or phenomenal team players; consequently, they are promoted into management. Most welcome the higher compensation and prestige. But what do they do when their primary job is suddenly to motivate, coach, mediate, listen to, and otherwise deal with people on a daily basis? This is what Zack’s book addresses.
As in her first book, Zack uses a style that is informative, entertaining, and perceptive. She sprinkles real-life examples and useful exercises throughout the narrative, and punctuates chapters with well-chosen quotes and proverbs.
A management consultant certified in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Zack counsels readers to approach the myriad challenges of management by first identifying themselves along the Thinker-Feeler spectrum (in general, Thinkers make decisions with their heads and value logic, ideas, and fairness; Feelers make decisions with their hearts and value harmony, feelings, and sympathy).
Many disconnects in the workplace happen because Thinkers have difficulty understanding how Feelers process information, and vice versa, Zack explains. So, she advises treating employees as they would most like to be treated: “A tough approach propels one employee; mildmannered encouragement inspires another.”
Zack gives tips on dealing with management pitfalls, such as praising mediocrity rather than pushing for better results, allowing negative individuals to sabotage the team, and criticizing rather than providing helpful feedback. She describes managing as a delicate balance between providing useful guidance and getting out of the way to let others shine. In this book, she explains how to do just that.