Kentaro Kobayashi got fired from his job as Creative Director of the opening ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics for making an inappropriate joke in 1998.
That might seem rather harsh, he was a young comedian going for – in his words – “cheap laughs”, but the joke was about the holocaust, and if you are going to make racist jokes, you have to accept that that comes at a price.
He apologised: “It should never be the job of an entertainer to make people feel uncomfortable.”
I think comedians should make people feel uncomfortable but only if the people are deserving of it, which we all are sometimes (our hypocrisy should be exposed and mocked), but we should not be made to feel uncomfortable because of our ethnicity or gender or religion or whatever.
I aspire to be both an anti-racist person and a forgiving person, so I’m not quite sure where that leaves me in Kobayashi’s case, but I tend to be more willing to forgive mistakes if something has been learnt, and we all have a youth dotted with things we’d rather forget.
Well, I should only speak for myself, although I am lucky to have grown up before everything was videoed and put on TikTok, so I can (and will) deny a lot of it.
As with Kobayashi, my use of humour has been a source of workplace blunders over the years.
If you want to succeed as a manager, you need to build relationships of trust with your team.
If they don’t trust you, nothing else matters: nothing you do will land right, the extra-mile won’t be run, the box won’t get thought outside of, no one will be saluting what you run up the flagpole … in short, creativity and motivation will drag sluggishly along the floor no matter how much cake you bring in on a Friday.
In fact, if our untrustworthy manager brought in cake on a Friday, what would you think?
You’d probably assume some sneaky ulterior motive, that they were trying to ingratiate themselves or bribe you with superficial treats … although obviously you’d still eat the cake, just to be polite.
If you’ve ever had a manager you didn’t trust, you won’t need much persuading on this point.
Saying you need trust in the team will seem like a statement of the blindingly obvious – and I’d agree with you, so imagine my surprise when someone once interrupted me to say:
We don’t have the luxury of building trusting relationships, we need people to get on with it and deliver
Someone on a management training course once (yes, seriously)
Hands up who wants to work for this person?
So, I am disappointed I need to do this, but I will start with three reasons why building trust is worthwhile, before going on to share three things you need to do to build trust in your teams.
The first proper piece of career advice I got was from my Father just before I started my first job.
I was 16 years old, and about to start working as a glass-collector in the local golf club where my Father was an active member.
The Bar Steward, Mr Jones, was a notoriously abrasive man, and I think my Father sensed trouble. Mr Jones was hard work, but he wasn’t the only one: I was an awkward argumentative know-all with all the social skills of a wasp at a picnic.
To him, and to most people I suspect, I looked like I was aloof or arrogant, but actually it was more about my lack of self-confidence and my social clumsiness. My personality is the sort that doesn’t do small talk and doesn’t crave human company for the sake of it, and this means it’s all too easy for me to stumble, as a bull may stumble its way through a china shop, when faced with uncomfortable social settings.
I’m pulling together the presentation for an event I’m speaking at next week, and I’m starting to struggle, and so to keep myself amused, I put together this rather long and mixed-up list of golden rules for presentations:
1. PowerPoint is not a presentation
PowerPoint is a useful tool, but it is not the presentation itself.
It might form part of the presentation: showing visuals, capturing points, keeping the agenda clear etc. – but the presentation is, in approximate order of importance:
Your objective(s) (what do you want the audience to do/think as a consequence of your presentation?)
The audience (who are these people?)
The content (what is the story you want to tell?)
The presenter (who are you, what’s your style?)
The environment (where will this happen, what are the pros and cons of that?)
What tools can I use (not just PowerPoint, but anything else that would help me achieve my objective with this audience in this location …?)
How can I amplify this by making noise on other channels (Social media etc.)
That puts PowerPoint – a tool – in second-to-last spot, although I just made that list up with minimal thought, so it could be in the wrong order.