Managing a Bulldozer in your Business Sandpit


Managing a Bulldozer in your Business Sandpit

There are many personality types contributing to the business environment.

Let’s bring it down to the sandpit for a moment. In the sandpit you may find a bucket and spade building, creating, inventing new and wonderful structures. Lying alongside is a random toy Disney character adding light, fun and an entertaining story to the game. A shade sail gently glides across the top not necessarily noticed by anyone, but quietly playing an important role in keeping everything safe.

Somewhere in the midst will be something unsavoury left by a cat or nappy, nobody wants to go anywhere near this. And then there’s the bulldozer with its loud monotonous soundtrack, pushing over everything in its path building small empires of its’ own choosing and quite likely irritating everyone else around it.

Every sandpit needs a bulldozer from time to time to change the state of play, to flatten things out, to get started again.

But as you may remember from your childhood sandpit, if the bulldozer continues to push, eventually something or someone in the sandpit will revolt. In recent times I’ve stumbled into the path of numerous business bulldozers en-route to whatever the hell they wanted to do. I’ve found the experience somewhat interesting, if for the sake of social examination over anything else.

You see, I’ve always thought it would be good to be a bulldozer in business. I’ve always secretly admired that person who commands respect the moment they walk into the room, who snaps from amicable to forceful in the blink of an eye if things go off track and makes those calls that start with words like, “Can you repeat what I asked you to do” or “This is my final offer”.

The bulldozer takes no prisoners.

They know they have a power base which may be (and often is) financial, of influence or a purely dogmatic nature. They know what they want and will not stop until the goal is reached, flattening everything that lies in the path.

But the bulldozer may also moonlight as a bully and just like life in the sandpit; it’s only ever a matter of time before the behaviour is called out and nobody wants to play anymore. I’m pleased to say I no longer aspire to the business tactics of the bulldozer, and I retain my principle of not ever doing business with people who are downright rude.

However, I do see the value of well managed bulldozeresque business conduct, particularly in times of change where change is needed, and it seems otherwise impossible.

Some situations need to be destroyed in order to start again.

Do you have cause to deal with a bulldozer (or a few) in your work environment?

If so, try these ideas on for size:

  • Have a clear understanding of why you want to work with this person and the outcome you expect them to achieve.
  • Think through the consequences of this work carefully. What do you want to change? What are the outcomes of that change? What will be lost in the process? Will that loss be ethical and for the greater good?
  • Set clear parameters for the job at hand and make sure this is in writing.
  • Undertake regular check-in meetings (face to face is best).
  • Understand your bulldozer may be brash in communication style; prepare yourself in advance for any verbal interaction and keep calm at all costs. Prepare yourself with one-liners to buy you time such as, “I’ll take that on notice” or “I’ll give that some thought”.
  • Set clear boundaries about what you will and will not tolerate, particularly in terms of how you will be spoken to, what hours of the day you can be contacted, how many times it’s appropriate to be contacted and which topic matters are constituted as urgent (and not).
  • Feed the bulldozers ego and praise them for the work you appreciate they have done.

Keep in mind the bulldozer personality type may actually send you cowering back to the sandpit, however, a well-managed, timely and documented process could achieve just the change you hope to make.

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