Book review: A sour taste of honey


50 Cautionary Tales For Managers
An entertaining collection of enlightening parables for managers
Author Peter Honey
Price £12.99
From howtobooks
ISBN 1 84528 109 8

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The glitterati of the management world have recommended this book. It carries endorsements from leadership expert John Adair and CIPD director-general Geoff Armstrong, to name but two.

The trouble is I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this series of pen-portraits of difficult people.

It is a well-written piece of work, and each portrait, which depicts easy-to-recognise tyrants, ditherers and meddlers, is followed by a solid piece of advice. My difficulty was that I couldn’t fathom why anyone would set out to read them.

For example, Honey gives an accurate and entertaining story about ‘Fred, the manager who lacked social skills’. He follows it up with ‘advice to Fred’.

Fair enough, but Fred is unlikely to pick up and read this book. The people who might be tempted to buy it are those who are exasperated by working with an eccentric like Fred, and don’t know what to do about him.

Such martyrs to the cause of bad management are left high and dry. Honey doesn’t offer them any advice and leaves us to fathom why anyone would devote time to reading scenarios over which they can have no influence. They might prove to be valuable lessons in how not to behave, but so what?

I was sorry to reach this conclusion because Honey’s forthright introduction, which details the seven perils of management, is excellent. More of the same would have sustained my interest.

BOXTEXT: Useful? 2 out of five
Well-written? 5 out of 5
Value for money? 3 out of 5

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