Committee players never take the
lead


•           He who
hesitates is lost


•           Strike while
the iron is hot


•           Victory
belongs to the swift


These statements
represent the thoughts of a moron from the committee player’s point of view.
Any second rate player knows that the truth lies in a different set of wise
sayings.


•           Follow the
leader


•           There is
safety in numbers


•           Fools go
where angels fear to tread


•           Look before
you leap


•           Do not
overrun your blockers


•           Let the
other guy show his hand first


•           The early worm gets caught by the
bird


Yes, this sounds
more like philosophy for the committed committee player.


Committee players are wishy-washy


Do not confuse
this with going whichever way the wind blows. The trick is that a good player
does not go at all. The master just stays in one place and leans with the wind
or the crowd. The direction totally depends on the situation or who the player
is talking with. The game is potentially dangerous, however. The player must
not go far enough in any direction to expose himself to a charge of changing
horses in the middle of the stream.


A player is
talking to Norma. “There is a lot of truth in what you are saying. It’s
easy enough to see where you’re coming from. I think you should stick to your
guns.”


An hour later, he
is talking with Glenna, the person with whom Norma was having the problem.
“It is a real problem, Glenna. It looks like the hassle would get to you
after a while. I’m just glad it’s not me who has to deal with that one.”


The next day, the
committee player is talking to Norma and Glenna together. “As I have
shared with both of you, things around here are a mess sometimes. It’s a sad
thing when dedicated people like the two of you are at each other.”


This player is
truly a person for all occasions.


Committee players cannot make
decisions


The point of
primary interest here is that skilled players appear to make decisions when
there is no decision.


A subordinate
asks, “What should I do about this?”


The player says,
“Use your best judgement.”


The problem is
that the subordinate’s best judgement was to ask the boss.


In another
example, a colleague asks, “How would you go with this if you were
me?”


The player says,
“That is a tough one. I think if I were you – and I am sure glad I’m not -
I’d check with some other people to see how they handle that kind of
thing.”


Of course, asking
someone else is exactly what the person is doing when he asks the committee
player.


In another
situation, the player is asked, “What have you decided? It is past time to
do something.”


He says, “At
this point it is a no-win kind of thing. Let’s just wait and see what
happens.”


The player’s
strategy is to get the other person to make the decision, if there must be a
decision. If it works out, the player takes credit for a successful mutual
effort. If not, he shows endless compassion for the person who made the wrong
choice. As a last resort, he holds his breath and hangs loose. Most of the
time, things work out okay anyway. When they do not, the player is simply a
victim of unavoidable circumstances.


Committee players ride the
coattails of others


This is a wait and
see technique where timing is everything. The player waits to hear someone else
express an opinion or make a decision and then steps toward the train. The
critical timing is taking care to wait until the last minute to get onto the
train. If the player commits too early, he can end up on the wrong train. If
too late, he misses the train altogether.


It also helps to
align with people in power. This, however, is a risky business. Power tends to
be illusive and may not be there when expected. In big organizations, this is
especially risky. The fun-and-games politics are such that fortunes can change
overnight. Committee players are usually well-advised not to play in such
unstable realms. Better they stick to watching the train and getting aboard
only if it is moving out of the station. The track to the top that way is a
little slower but much safer.


Committee players bend over
backward to avoid offending anyone


In some settings,
these players are good old boys or good old girls. In old movies, they are rich
types – usually men – who do not work and hang around the club. The amazing
thing is they almost never get upset about anything unless everyone else feels
upset. Even then, you get the impression that they are upset mostly about
others feeling upset.


For example, a
small company is laying off twenty-five employees, including the committee
player. He goes around sympathizing with those getting laid off, congratulating
those who are staying, and telling the boss she has a rough job. In the mean
time, he does no work and talks about how tough this is for everyone. No one
gets upset with him because he is so pleasant and thoughtful. He is a good old
boy. Of course, his play is to be seen as such a good old boy that the decision
to lay him off will be withdrawn on that basis.


Committee players are too busy
or stressed to pitch in


This is a
double-edged example of The Frustration Factor. Not only does the player avoid
extra duties or responsibilities, he gets others to feel sorry about how much
pressure and stress he has. The payoff for this play is that people expect less
than usual. It is like having your cake and eating it too.


Lewis is a
therapist at a counseling center. The usual expectation is therapists spend
five hours a day in face-to-face therapy with clients. Lewis is averaging less
than four.


His supervisor says,
“I want you to raise your productivity a little.”


Lewis says,
“That also concerns me. I would like to take on some more clients but just
don’t know how I can right now.”


The supervisor
asks, “Why? What is the problem?” – a big mistake.


Lewis leans back
in his chair and explains, “It’s an odd thing. The clients I have right
now are especially difficult and time consuming. Along with that, I seem to
have an unusual amount of paperwork right now. I’m taking it home just to keep
my head above water. If that were not enough, one of my children has been ill
and out of school for a few days.”


By this point, the
supervisor is feeling badly about bringing it up at all. Maybe he is expecting
too much of the player. The way to spot a real pro with the technique is after
a while, he does almost nothing and no one hassles or complains.


Committee players always have
excuses for not getting the job done


The key to success
with the technique for the committee player is always to use an external
excuse. This includes circumstances or events outside his area and outside his
control. Here is the real secret. The excuse also needs to be outside the
expertise or control of anyone else who is around. Complex equipment -
especially computers – is a natural.


“I would have
gotten finished, but the computer would not cooperate.”


Late deliveries
are also good. “I would be done, but the part, report, instructions were
not to me on time.”


Things like car
trouble, baby sitter problems, hot water tanks going out, someone’s misfiling
or not filing things, planes being late and the like are good too. The player
only needs to be sure to keep a log to keep track of how long it has been
between using each excuse. For example, someone might remember he got a new hot
water tank last month. That could be embarrassing.


Players need also
to know about the Law of Flat Tires. It says that if you tell your boss today
that you are late because you had a flat tire, tomorrow morning you will
actually have a flat tire.


Committee players take
everything personally


This technique is
the essence of committee Play. If the player is not skilled with personalizing
everything, he is well-advised to consider specializing in another method.


Usually, pouting
or withdrawing are good ways to show something has been taken personally. Some
players get away with getting irate or indignant. Experienced players try both
and see which works the best in specific situations or with specific people.
Most aficionados find adopting one approach or the other most all the time
works best.


With this
technique, there is a beginner’s and an advanced level of play. At the
beginner’s level, the player gets upset and personalizes things directly
affecting him. At the advanced level, the player takes personally things that
neither affect nor involve him.


The advanced
player says, “I’m indignant about what’s going on with Linda back in
billing. It is not right that she is the only one back there who didn’t get a
new desk.”


The manager says,
“There were only five new desks. She will get a new one the next time we
order equipment. Anyway, she is the newest person in the unit.”


Undaunted, the
player hangs tough. “How do you think she feels. It is no fun being a
second class citizen. Those ladies have as much right to respect as anyone
else.”


The manager says,
“What does respect have to do with this? I thought we were talking about
desks.”


Too bad! This
manager has been out maneuvered by an expert committee player.