Submitted by M_Dante on
This may be a strange question but I haven't been able to find any advice or help on the topic through my searches. I have 3 teams of about 12 employees with recently promoted managers that are all not performing very well. One of my thoughts on their poor performance is that these teams previously had 3 experienced managers who were some of the best, so they were promoted. The teams haven't changed in any way other than a new manager was promoted to lead them. Now I'm feeling like these teams are rebelling against their new managers and maybe it would be best to rearrange the teams and taking 4 people from each team to create a new team. I don't want to do this as I know it's disruptive, but I feel like it might be the best choice I have. Any thoughts comments or suggestions on the topic would be greatly appreciated!
How long has it been?
You say these managers have been "recently promoted" -- how long has it been since they were moved into those positions? And where did they come from? Were they team members who have been promoted to management, or did they come from outside the teams?
These new managers may well be inexperienced at managing, which could affect their teams' performance. How do those managers think they are doing? How do the teams think those managers are doing?
If the structure in your organization has those managers reporting directly to you, it looks like a combination of one-on-ones with the managers and skip-level meetings with the team members could give you a fuller picture of what's going on. You may have a great opportunity to coach the new managers on management tasks and processes -- and make them just as excellent as the previous managers were.
I think some adjustment period would be normal with the transition to new team managers, but the adjustment period would probably be even longer if you rearranged all three teams at the same time. Under the previous managers, those teams performed well -- don't fix what's not broken. The teams and the managers may not be used to each other yet, and that's a process you may be able to guide to the benefit of everyone concerned.
Houston, Texas, USA
Shuffling the deck
Your scenario is fairly common, promoted managers and dysfunctional teams.
Before you make a change in the team I would do as you suggest and highlight the performance, that it's not doing well and consider bringing on a coach/mentor or someone that can either facilitate or view as an outsider.
One of the challenges in promoting staff and having them lead teams will be disruptive if the folks reporting into the managers feel they were slighted or not given a fair chance of being a supervisor. In this case regardless folks would be set up to fail.
If you think that you need to make a switch immediately then document the poor performance and "shuffle the deck", either switch managers or make changes.
And finally just be clear and transparent in your decision making.
Hope that helps.
More soon. Flying home.
Re-organizing usually doesn't work
There's a great quote, which is apparently apocryphal: We trained hard . . . but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.
I don't think you have an organization problem, you have a (new) manager behavioral problem, something that is fairly common. Changing people around will just confuse everyone again, on top of undercutting the folks you have in those roles now.
Invest some time in the managers who are struggling. (By the way, those guys who got promoted aren't THAT good - no one was ready to succeed them easily. Bad sign)
Invest in one on ones. Ask them to brief you on what's going on. Support them publicly while privately giving them lots of guidance. Don't you dare get rid of them without putting some effort into helping them succeed. Are THEY doing one on ones? Are they developing everyone? Are you SURE they know what their goals and deliverables are..and are you sure they have communicated their directs' roles to them?
Focus on blacking and tackling and behaviors, not structure.
Should I dismantle teams with new leaders?
Investing time and effort into new teams is critical during team transitions. Any team transition, especially with an outside manager coming in will be disruptive and lead a reduction in productivity until the new structure and team manager is accepted by the team. I emphasize the team because the team is what works together, not the outside manager.
I second the call to bring in a facilitator / experienced team trainer to get your teams back up to a high-performing level. I also agree with Mark that the managers may not have been that good. A good, high-perfoming team takes changes in stride and embraces new team members, new leaders, and changes in direction.
I should add a caveat here. My experience is as a team leader, again with the emphasis on team as it is the team that gets the work done, not the individual. I am not a manger, but I have found this site useful for the past two plus years I have been a member.
All the best - Tony