Back in April I received a copy of the book Bare Knuckle People Management from the authors Sean O’Neil and John Kulisek. I actually thought I’d written this review already, as I had the book read within a few weeks (actually, I read it in a day, but it took some time to get to it). I offer this book review in full disclosure that I didn’t pay for it, and thus I can pretty much say whatever I want to say about it.

With that said I just have to say… I loved this book! I’m not overall crazy about some of the language in the book but I have to add that it’s honest and these guys pull no punches. In a strange way it reminds me a lot of my book, only with different words.

The book is in 3 different parts: the People Principles; Your Workplace; and the Teams. The first part talks about different types of people you’ll meet along your way, both at work and in your personal life, and as I was reading it I could easily identify with everything I was seeing. One especially interesting part was when they were talking about apologies, to whit: “Don’t use apologies as vehicles to restate your position”. In essence, it sounds like an excuse for bad behavior or treating people bad, analogous to someone who physically abuses his wife saying “I’m sorry I beat you but you made me do it because…” Great point guys.

The second part really breaks down the types of people you’ll encounter in the workplace, and it was both funny and familiar since I did the same thing. The book first announces all the types, then goes back and gives you a full profile on what they mean and how to work with them. Some of the descriptions are a big forward, but my bet is that if you read it you’ll easily understand it and probably know someone that fits the bill. The character type I liked the best, the one I think many companies really need more than anyone else, is Steady Eddie, the one person you know you can always count on, the one that just works and gets things done even if that person doesn’t stand out from the crowd and will never win any awards. These are the people that bring balance to your organization, and thus it helps to have a lot of these folks around. This is actually the biggest section in the book, and it’s very entertaining.

The final part, the teams, brings groups of these people together as far as whether their the majority you deal with at a specific time, not necessarily that every person on the team is this person. For instance, one of the team types they bring up is called “Hickory”, and the premise is that there’s the one star of the team that you lean on, yet have to find ways to bring everyone else along in the proper support roles so that the team can excel. They use the example of the movie Hoosiers, but since I never saw that movie I’ll go with collegiate sports in general where one main player is so far above everyone else that the coach really doesn’t have to spend much time on them, so instead they work with everyone else to try to maximize what that player can do, which ends up bringing success to everyone. For you Syracuse folks does the name Carmelo Anthony mean anything to you?

This book was a good read and a lot of fun. O’Neil and Kulisek offer suggestions for how to work with these different types of people and the different types of teams you’ll end up dealing with. Some suggestions are blunt; suggestions that you just might have to fire or replace people are in here. I can’t disagree with that, but sometimes it’s harsh to see. Unfortunately, the workplace isn’t an office of charity. Leaders sometimes need to make tough decisions. I think this book offers thoughts on that which are valid and straight to the point; with a title like Bare Knuckle People Management, it had better! Nice job guys.

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