How much rope is enough?

How much rope is enough

Give them rope


Reflecting back over my career and various positions in organisations, I can say that managers in various guises have played a major part in how well I performed and how well I progressed into a better person in the workplace and in the processes I adopted and now use. Transferable skills shall we say.


We all over time gather info and learn, it’s just built into our systems. That’s why you hear people say, “You learn something new every day.”, when they come across a fact they did not know.

So, in the workplace we are always learning, now I don’t mean gaining certifications here, even though that always helps. I mean we are constantly shaping and evaluating what we are doing and if it could be done better and changing it so that the next time we do that task or a similar one, we will do it differently. Experiential learning if you like.

Where does the rope come in?

Well the rope comes in as I reflect back on various line managers at the various posts I have had. Some managers obviously stand out for the way they behaved. Some for positive reasons and some for negative reasons. But the importance is they stand out.

A manager’s job is a complex one and staff see the manager in different ways: –

  • The manager is in between me and the top brass, so they take the heat.
  • The manager is there to bounce things off and I let them take the final decision that I run with.
  • The manager is there to help me do what I do and advise and give experience where needed
  • The manager is there to identify my strengths and weaknesses and help me grow.
  • The manager is there to hound me and be on my back all the time
  • The manager is there to micromanage everything I do
  • The manager is there to bully me into doing things a certain way
  • The manager is just an extension of the top brass and I don’t trust them
  • The manager is just looking after themselves all the time.

The above are just some responses I have heard and I am sure you have heard many more over the years. The top ones are positive and the bottom ones are more negative. The culture the manager creates is one of the most important things in an organisation. It is either a culture of trust and growth and innovation or one of distrust and tolerance of the management as a whole.

The rope comes in where the mangers are switched onto their staff and not just processes and statistics. You see the managers that have stuck out in my past are the ones that saw my potential for self-motivation and gave me the rope to run with it. When I stretched the rope and I did on more than one occasion, they would grab the end and pull me back in a bit, but always with encouragement and not demotivation..

I have worked in some great environments where the people were such a massive resource and if they had been managed correctly would have been so innovative that the potential clients would be climbing over each other to come and deal with us. Sadly, a culture of short ropes and bullying was relevant and it destroyed the people and the innovative juices within a short period. Very sad indeed to be part of and watch. I did escape and got out before the whole house of cards fell.

So how much rope is enough?

This is a great question, don’t get me wrong I believe in systems and know they have to be there for so many reasons. I EVEN TEACH THEM.

But, I also have such a heart for innovation and letting people be creative. I teach a creative thinking techniques seminar that gets people to tap into the juices that made them creative when they were children. Which they have now parked as they have picked up the managerial styles over the years.

They come out and can create ideas that are normally outside their thinking processes. It’s like a relearning. I do believe that most people can be self-motivated and if given a brief and some rope may well shock you with the solutions they come up with. Once you trust and give them the opportunity they will impress. If not we all learn anyway and nothing is lost; I guarantee that more will be gained. It’s is easier to get the best out of staff with motivation than bullying. That I also guarantee, having experienced both.

What are your thoughts on this whole area, would be good to hear from you.