It’s a shame when good companies lose good employees because current systems or business practices create a situation in which separation
becomes unavoidable. Yet that’s what happened in the following three situations.
William had been an excellent employee for several years. In fact, for the past three years he had been the most productive person in his department. Upper management took notice of him and when the opportunity came they promoted him to a managerial position. Although it was well deserved and William not only appreciated the increase in compensation, he was proud of his new status – Manager! The only problem was: he was very bad at it. The department suffered and the company suffered. They not only lost his high-quality productivity, the productivity of the entire department began to drop because of his management. What do you do? It’s unlikely that William would be willing take a demotion and return to his previous position.
Sally had worked for the company for many years and had worked her way through the ranks from frontline employee to her current position as COO. It was evident that no one was more committed to the well-being of the company and its mission than was Sally. She had worked in every department and knew exactly what should be done and how it should be done. She was not about to let operational mistake impede the company’s growth and success. Making sure things were done right became an obsession. She insisted on knowing about what mistakes were made and who was to blame. As you can imagine, innovation was not permitted. Eventually, employees began to believe that “administration” was out to get people. “Administration” could not be trusted. Sally’s concern for being “right” was eventually experienced by suppliers and customers. Sally was loyal to a fault and had a wealth of information about the company and what it wanted to be. She was committed, but toxic. What do you do?
Charlie was a confident, well-liked, easy going middle manager. His team seemed to work well together and enjoyed their work. Each week the Mid-Mans (as they were called) met together with the Ops Manager as a check in just to see how things were going and if there were any problems that needed to be solved. It seemed like there was always something in Charlie’s division that needed attention. At every meeting, there were one or two corrective actions Charlie was told to implement. Charlie’s typical response was, “I can absolutely do that,” and seemed to take it all in stride. However, production from Charlie’s department was mediocre at best. And, at times, it appeared that Charlie didn’t know what was going on in his department. He was committed to the company and to its mission and brought many gifts to the table, but it appeared that Charlie was not leading or managing the team. What do you do?
Each of these individuals had earned their position, but were no longer achieving desired outcomes. All three eventually left or were fired. The companies had invested a lot in them and had benefited greatly by them being a part of the company. All that talent was lost because, in Jim Collins’ words, “they ended up in the wrong seat on the bus.” It was unfair to send them back to their old seats, so they got dropped off the bus. The real reason they were dropped off was organizational inflexibility and an outdated hierarchical system. Talent could have been saved simply by creating new seats.
William was gifted in production but not in managing. One might have “promoted” William to a newly created mentoring position in which he taught others the production skills and thinking he implemented in becoming the best of the best.Larry Wells
William was gifted in production but not in managing. One might have “promoted” William to a newly created mentoring position in which he taught others the production skills and thinking he implemented in becoming the best of the best. There is a book by Liz Wiseman entitled, MULTIPLIERS which emphasizes that the best leaders are those that multiply themselves – that is, pass on their abilities to others. That principle can apply at every level.
Without question, Sally needed to be “promoted” out of day to day operations. With her knowledge and experience of from where the organization had come, and a vision of where it could go, she might have done well in a “futurist” position in which she could investigate what innovations were appearing in the industry. Then, she could be working in strategic planning and creating the future.
Charlie clearly knew how to connect with people. Why not use that trait to the company’s advantage? He probably would have done well in outside sales or community relations.
I do not mean to imply that there is never a time to let a once-good employee go. Sometimes firing someone is not only the best thing for the company, it can also be good for the employee. However, companies benefit by expanding the bottom line to include “people”: suppliers, employees, customers, shareholders, and the community. This is a part of what it means to implement conscious business practices, and, for some, this requires a new way of thinking.