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I've been an Operations Manager in a small telemarketing company (60 emp) for 3 years. The first 2 years in the role I helped deliver the best bottom line in 25 years and take it from 3 years of loses to strong profit.

This past year we implimented a new CRM system and got invovled in a Beta Dialer system. Both had the buyin of the owner, although he is not technically savvy and didn't even want a CRM login. The CRM system is working as planned, strong user adoption, and meeting 95% of plans. The dialer was a mess, resulting in ~25% drop in top line revenue for 5-6 mths, and likely a loss in revenue this year. 

I went on holiday in the summer and came back to "The CRM system is the biggest disaster and causing our losses" he has then dismantled randomly the progress on this system, is building a custom system that will not meet our needs, and is entirely unwilling to discuss it. He has also directed me to stop having one-on-ones, without understanding why they are done, and pulled me into doing random project work. 

I am confident that these steps will result in stagnation of the company for the long term as well as the lose of a few key department heads. 

I have determined that I will no longer stay with the company, however I don't want the company, and current directs to suffer due to these changes. 

I am hoping to be in a new role by Apr. '15. In the mean time, how should I deal with my boss/Owner in order to attempt to not lose staff and future growth, as well as stabilize what was once a strong relationship?

Thanks,
Jason

rhsanborn's picture

"I have determined that I will no longer stay with the company, however I don't want the company, and current directs to suffer due to these changes. " 

I'm sorry to hear you're in a rough position, and unfortunately, I don't have a fix that accomplishes what you want. 

I think this is ultimately a "circle of influence/circle of control" issue. You don't have any control in this matter (your boss does), at best you have influence, but it sounds like that may be waning. Your boss has already decided what he wants to do. This would normally fall under professional subordination. Once your boss has heard your concern and has made a decision, you support that decision as if it were your own. About the only other way you could change his mind is with new data, or data he didn't have before. If you got new numbers back that showed why your original position was right, you MIGHT be able to speak to him privately and see what he says. But after that, you ought to drop the issue. I don't recommend that because it suggests you should be digging for more data to support your position when you should be working to make whatever decision he has made work.

Unfortunately, all the other "options" probably won't be successful. Trying to change his mind by arguing the same points differently, or trying to build a coalition, etc. are all the things you shouldn't do (per the subordination cast), and aren't likely to change his mind. 

Additionally, using your exit to try and change things usually doesn't work either. You're leaving, so your boss probably doesn't value your opinion as highly right now. Meanwhile, you'll be putting yourself at some personal, reputational risk.

Keep doing your job, get results, and if you don't feel the work environment is a good fit for you, leave on good terms.

It's incredibly frustrating, but you can't change what's outside of your control.

Regards,

Randall Sanborn

jrb3's picture

It's understandable you want to try to limit the damage for the organization and for your directs.

The relevant person for limiting the damage to the organization is the owner.  If you have laid it out to him honestly and discreetly, "look what I did for you in the past two years, please trust me and stick out the temporary rough patch so we can get back to profitability for you", that's the best you can do.  It's out of your hands if the owner is hell-bent on taking the organization down.  Do what you can to stem the bleeding from the owner's business decision, knowing you're fighting a losing battle.  Do the best you can to stay professional about this.  Save money like mad, if you're not already doing so, and prepare yourself to cut loose early if you find at some point you just cannot take it any longer.  (Been there, done that.)

Keep the one-on-ones going, even as "professional updates" or informal outside-of-work sessions.  If it's frustrating for you, it's doubly so for them, for they have even less control and insight into the rising chaos.  Directs who are any good are well worth having "on your bench" for any shift to a new organization.

mrreliable's picture

The dialer was a mess, resulting in ~25% drop in top line revenue for 5-6 mths, and likely a loss in revenue this year.

I went on holiday in the summer and came back to "The CRM system is the biggest disaster and causing our losses" he has then dismantled randomly the progress on this system, is building a custom system that will not meet our needs, and is entirely unwilling to discuss ii.

I don't see anything unwise about an owner of a 25-year-old 60-employee company freaking out when the company starts hemorraging money after years of strong profits. You acknowledge the dialer was a mess and connected that to a precipitous drop in revenue. This person has one or two hundred people who rely on him for their financial well-being when you count family members, besides his own. What is he supposed to do? Stand by and maintain the status quo as he watches his ship rapidly sinking?

I have determined that I will no longer stay with the company, however I don't want the company, and current directs to suffer due to these changes.

 Excuse me for being so blunt, but a 25% drop in revenue is going to cause a lot more suffering for the company and the employees than will occur if you get another job. I honestly believe you're focusing on the wrong things and ignoring your owner's agenda in favor of your own. I'd be freaking out too if that occurred with a company I owned, and I'll bet you would be too. You're clearly unhappy in this company. I'd recommend you get another job. It's not your responsibility to be a savior for the company and its employees.

NLewis's picture

I believe what he's saying it that ownership is disassembling the CRM (which is working) when the dialer is actually the culprit.  Furthermore they are dissassembling it pell-mell and hamstringing him both in terms of his effectiveness as a manager and in his ability to consistently contribute.

There is a saying in Latin - "Ultra Posse Nemo Obligatur".  No one is obligated beyond their ability.  You cannot allow your peace of mind to be held hostage by other people's decisions.  Did you do the best job you could under the circumstances? Presumably the answer is yes.  If so then go home at night with a clear concience.

Professional subordination is not easy (I chafe under it my own self).   Being an adept manager is not easy.  That's what makes it a worthwhile endevor.  The worse the circumstances the more meaningful the accomplishment - IF you can maintain your professionalism.

Will it suck if the company tanks?  Yes and you are wise to start preparing for it.  Could people you care about - your directs and peers and others - be hurt by this?  Possibly.  If it happens you will be there for them.  

At the end of the day, though, it's not your company so it isn't your call.  That's the bottom line.  The company is the owner's property.  Do the best job you can, be prepared for the outcome of their decisions, but don't let those decisions disaffect you.  Just do your job.

"Friend, I do you no wrong. Did you not agree to work for me for a denarius?  Take what is yours and go...  Do I not have a right to do what I choose with what belongs to me?"

j_matthews's picture

Thanks for the great responses to my concerns. As always this is an impressive bunch that is in the Manager tools forums. I am no longer with this company, I maintained my professionalism, was professionally subordinate for the duration of my tmie there and left on very good terms with the owner. 

I am looking forward to my next role, and am currently interviewing for seveal companies.

Thanks again for your input.

Jason