How to spot and replace a mediocre manager
Tony was a manager in a small company of 20 employees. If you asked any of his direct reports about him, they would all say he was a good guy and that they liked him – but if you looked more deeply it was noticeable that Tony was close friends with several of his reports, which made it a struggle for him to correct anyone. He also had a tendency to arrive at work a few minutes late and a leave a few minutes early. In addition, Tony was generally late delivering projects, and had a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver. To Jesse, the owner of the company, Tony’s performance was not all that impressive – but it wasn’t totally terrible either. Jesse couldn’t find a specific reason to get rid of Tony, but he had a nagging feeling that for what he was paying Tony he ought to be getting more from him. Does Tony (or Toni) sound familiar? Do you have one in your business?
One of the most difficult aspects of running a business is people management …..particularly when it comes to firing a well-liked manager that has done nothing “wrong”, but is not performing up to expectations. If the manager has stolen, been grossly insubordinate, or been violent, then the decision is easy, but it’s the more difficult, less specific performance related issues that can lead to owners or senior managers delaying or deferring decisions to terminate poor managers.
Possible reasons to fire a poor manager:
1. Bias against action; Real leaders display a consistent bias for action. People who don’t make mistakes generally don’t make anything.
2. Over-sensitivity; A sensitive manager may not be able to have a conversation with an employee who is constantly late because they don’t want to ‘hurt the employee’s feelings’.
3. Focus on small tasks; Some managers concentrate on the minutiae as a displacement activity to hide the fact that he/she can not do their real job.
4. Problems with deadlines; The manager who cannot set, and stick to deadlines, cannot honor commitments
5. Long hours; The best performers are able to prioritize and concentrate on the few things that really matter. It is often the case that managers working working 24/7 cannot do the same, because they are not able to focus and prioritize.
So if your manager has these traits it is probably time to get a new one. But how do you get rid of the current one?
How to fire a poor manager and how to do it right:
Perhaps the most difficult part of being a business owner is telling your manager that he can no longer stay with the company — that he’s been “fired,” “let go,” “dismissed,” or otherwise taken off the payroll. It’s a gut-wrenching conversation, knowing how this simple act affects a person’s career, self-esteem, and livelihood.
Firings should occur in a private area with at least one witness, but away from other employees.
1. Transition from coaching them up, to coaching them out; before you fire someone you should identify where they’re not performing, show them, set clear objectives, and give them the coaching they need to achieve them. If you’ve done this, and they nail it, great — you won’t have to fire them. If they don’t achieve the set objectives, they have effectively fired themselves due to a lack of performance.
2. Make the dismissal about their dignity and humanity; Be clear about the reason for termination. Get right to the point. Skip the small talk. Start the termination meeting by saying, “Hello, John, sit down. I’ve got some bad news for you.” Next, break the bad news. State the reason for the termination in one or two short sentences and then tell the person directly that he or she has been terminated. It’s usually best to schedule the termination meeting at the end of a work day so that the meeting takes place while coworkers are leaving
3. Let them know you will support them, and then actually do it; It is important for companies to protect their reputation when terminating employees. Past employees may not only be future sources of business, but how a company handles terminations can also affect its future success recruiting sought-after workers. Employers should strive to separate individuals through a process that helps the employee leave the company with his or her pride intact. Be specific about what will happen next: pay, benefits, unused vacation time, references, outplacement, explanations to coworkers, ongoing projects, etc.
Jesse eventually did part ways with Tony, but not before Tony had refused to fire one of his subordinates who was caught stealing inventory from the company and selling it on eBay. Jesse said that he wished he’d have taken the decision sooner, because Tony’s replacement is “light years ahead of what I had before”.
If you are having problems holding your staff accountable and dealing with managers that you think are only “okay” give Jager Consulting a call at 440 385 6737 to set up a meeting and see how we may be able to help you.