I was sitting in my cubicle when I overhead a conversation over the wall next to me. It was another manager and his director. The director said I need to do a presentation please send me over the slides that you have. The manager paused and said, I will send them over to you but if you are going to use them please keep my name on them to show that I created them. I was shocked at this exchange. The gall of the manager to push back on his boss and ask for this? Powerpoint plagiarism is one of the cornerstones of corporate life. Who was he to push back? The director responded without delay, sure no problem. I was still shocked at this series of events but I came to find out that was of the key question you should be asking in any meeting you are in. “Who made the powerpoint?”
Welcome to the corporate middle I am your host Donald Meador, today on 5-minute manager I am going to give you a quick leadership question you should be asking and be able to answer yourself. “Who made the powerpoint?”
I think most of us are familiar with the old kids game of telephone. You put all the kids in a straight line. The first person whispers a phrase into the ear of the person next to them, and they say the same phrase to their neighbor and then it proceeds all the way down the line to the last person. The last person will say it out loud and everyone gets to hear how wrong it is from the initial phrase. Then everyone laughs at the absurdity of it all. No matter how hard you try the phrase will ALWAYS be different. We all know this happens. We all know this is a bad way to communicate yet this is EXACTLY how company meetings work. The director has to make a presentation but doesn’t know any details, so they ask the manager to do it. The manager doesn’t know any details so they ask the engineer to do it. The engineer makes the PP passes it to the manager who will make his own tweaks then pass it to the director who will tweak it some more. The director will then stand up and give a presentation to the VP’s about a topic they have no knowledge of. Million dollar decisions are made with this information! It is NUTS. You know its crazy and I know its crazy. This has to stop.
What can you do If you are in this situation and you don’t want to perpetuate the insanity?
- If you are in a meeting you should be asking the real question who made the PP? Or maybe an easier question who contributed? You must find out the actual source of the information.
- Talk to THAT person directly. One of the most effective VP’s I ever worked for understood this. She was known to call engineers directly on issues. It made the directors and managers uncomfortable because they were terrified of what they might say, but she understood that’s where the real information was.
- Don’t be that person. If a presentation is needed and you don’t know what is going on, Let your team present it. Let the person with the knowledge actually present, give them an opportunity to shine. This is not going to reflect poorly on you. You still get credit for team wins. In some cultures, this may not be an option. You may be required to let someone else present. If that is the case give credit where it was due, throw their name on the bottom corner of a slide. Acknowledge where the info came from. It is going to make a huge difference in the credibility you have with your team.
Only you can stop powerpoint plagiarism. Make sure and ask. “Who created the powerpoint? ”
Hope you enjoyed today’s quick tip, I wanted to say a quick thank you to all the positive feedback I continue to get about my book “Surrounded by Insanity” I am really happy it is resonating with so many of you. I love to hear your feedback about the book the podcast or any story you want to share. You can contact me at Donald@corporatemiddle.com. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.
Thanks for listening, and Remember the reward for good work is just more work.