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The Apprentice 3: Why Michael Lostby David Bloomberg -- 02/22/2005
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Michael was not exactly a go-getter in Magna Corp’s massage parlor/spa task, but normally that does not make one a target for firing. However, Michael has been wearing a target for several weeks now, so it was really only a matter of time. Why did his time come now? Could he have avoided it? Why did Michael lose?
These are the all-important questions this column seeks to answer each week. As always, we will look back to What ‘Apprentice 3’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see what we can put together.
The first rule, of course, is to be a good leader. We saw Michael lead once, in the motel refurbishing task. His team won, but was it because of him or in spite of him? I would have to say the latter. Much of Magna’s ranking on the customer survey came from service issues rather than how well they had done in remodeling. But Michael was much more concentrated on the latter, to the extent that he had everybody painting rather than listening to Verna, for example, when she wanted to discuss how to make the customers happy. Danny appeared to be mostly responsible for the evening party, and Bren took over breakfast duties after Verna had her meltdown. In other words, even though his team won, it was not because of Michael’s leadership abilities.
On those tasks when he was not the Project Manager, Michael’s main contributions seemed to be whining, sulking, arguing, and wandering around aimlessly. Needless to say, these are not exactly traits that inspire others.
The second rule is to stay cool under fire. During the challenges, Michael presented his ideas and, if they were not taken, would act like a child. Later, when he was supposed to be doing something, he generally did it half-heartedly. From one standpoint, at least he wasn’t getting stressed out and so was following this rule. However, his behavior is not exactly what I would consider “staying cool,” so I can’t really give him any credit here.
His Boardroom behavior wasn’t any better. He whined there as well and was somewhat defensive (of course, he had plenty to be defensive about). In fact, he was so defensive that he interrupted Bren when Bren was going after Stephanie!
Third is to have a backbone. Michael definitely stood up for his ideas, and in fact refused to ever admit that anybody else had a better one. However, on top of that backbone rested the brain of a five-year-old child. I could say that my five-year-old has a backbone too, but it’s really just the stubborn nature of a child who wants his way – the same is true for Michael.
Michael violated the fourth rule, which indicates that scheming and plotting usually don’t work. He and Stephanie knew they were likely Boardroom targets, and so planned to stick together against Bren. The problem is that Michael actually held to it when a different target – namely Stephanie – was in Trump’s sights! He was only thinking about ganging up on Bren, but ignored the possibility that Bren, an attorney, might just be able to argue himself out of the situation and focus instead on Stephanie. Michael should have sat back and let it ride, allowing Bren and Stephanie to fight. Instead, he jumped in as part of his plan and ended up bringing Trump’s focus back to himself.
The fifth rule says to play well with others, but stay professional. Michael did neither. We’ve already discussed the way he acted when things weren’t going his way, but there were even more, like when he was playing around so much that Danny had to threaten him with a timeout!
Michael’s behavior would not be tolerated in any corporate structure of which I’m aware, for a variety of reasons. First, employees need to understand that while good managers are willing to listen to their ideas, that doesn’t mean the employee will always get his/her way. At some point, the manager is going to say, “It’s done,” and the employee will be expected to go along with it. This happens every day in any employer/employee situation. Michael simply could not handle it. Second, we move into how he showed his displeasure and being overruled – as I’ve said, acting like a five-year-old. To be more specific, acting like a five-year-old who deserves to be punished.1 2 Next-->
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