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My background is in education, sales and marketing and I joined an education services organization as General Manager 2 weeks ago.  This is a small private organization (about 15 staff) I have been pretty familiar with as a client for the last 8 years.  As a client and collaborator, I had an outsider's view of the organization and a good idea of their challenges and future goals.  Now I'm in the inside and have a complete understanding of their situation.

For a long time, I'd been hearing complaints from other clients regarding one of the senior staff.  Complaints along of lines of disruptive behavior, failure to comply to company rules and sometimes plain lack of professionalism like standing in front of the main entrance elevator and yelling  "It's 5:01 and I'm going home because I'm no longer getting paid." in front of visitors and clients.   His previous supervisor (no longer with the company) rarely reprimanded him because "the owner/President  likes him," I was told.  I must say I was never directly affected as a client, so I did not have the need to take action.

I have been interviewing a number of the staff to get to know them and the company better and the complaints about this individual staff  keep popping up as the cause of friction and low motivation for the whole team.  To make matters worse, I'm also realizing this individual does not seem to be meeting performance criteria in his core responsibility either. 

I have discussed with the president and she seems to downplay the complaints, saying it is all personal, that he possesses great leadership and that she wants to keep him.  Two staff who are leaving the firm have told me he is on of the reasons for them to resign and that we have recently lost at least 2 clients because of him .  

This individual is on holiday now I have not talked with him yet.  My 1st reaction after all the complaints:  Sack him ASAP.  On 2nd thought I plan to share the feedback, get his side of the story,  and maybe give him a 2nd chance while keeping him on a very short lead.  I'm already looking for a replacement. 

Any thoughts?

mmann's picture

Harold,

Just off the top of my head, I'd recommend fitting in and not making  big changes for the first few months.  Take the time to build the necessary relationships.

I'd be reluctant to accept the villification of this person so quickly.  Once people see a sin in someone else they can be quick to blame all sorts of things on them.  I'm also guessing the person may have some positive facets.  What are they?  Your President sees leadership in this person, can you verbalize the behaviors she's seeing that lead her to believe he's a leader? 

--Michael

craignkzoo's picture

Take your time in understanding the situation fully. If you manage this person well, they may very well improve and win the rest of the staff over. Plus, you need to build your relationship with the owner/President and have their input as well.

 

Good Luck.

ashdenver's picture

You said: Now I'm in the inside and have a complete understanding of their situation.

I don't know that such a thing is possible, least of all in 2 weeks time. 

I think you would be best served by treating this person as you treat everyone else - with an open mind, interested in hearing him out, observing his behaviour and results and acting accordingly.  Just because a few people tell you "he's a bad apple" doesn't mean you should take their side and get rid of him - or even start the working relationship with that as the premise. 

Do the O3s - find out what makes him tick.  Share feedback regularly (start with 10 positive before moving into adjusting FB.)  Develop rapport - maybe he's feeling used & abused which is driving his 5:01 attitude.  Perhaps regular positive feedback could turn that around - some basic appreciation is free and can be quite powerful.  Ask each of your DRs to provide you with a synopsis of what they see as their job description, areas of responsibillity and metrics for performance appraisal to get a baseline of where each of them are starting, perspective-wise.  Give EVERYONE the benefit of the doubt and assume NOTHING. 

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tomjedrz's picture

I would let him go if the organization will let you. Work out a reasonable severance, and be done with him. You have some wiggle room when you first start that evaporates as you get tenure.  If you know he is bad, cut him out now before you have to spend valuable time and effort fixing him or documenting and firing him properly. 

If that isn't allowed by the organization, I would begin the one-on-ones, feedback and coaching, and let the chips fall where they may.  If his problem behaviors don't go away after mentions in the O3s, and feedback, then no HR person or lawyer could fault you for the dismissal in 90 days or so.

Then go get the lost customers back.

tomjedrz's picture

There is no chance that the president/owner/CEO doesn't realize that this guy is a problem.  Far more likely is that the outsider was brought in partially to deal with situations such as this, which the president/owner/CEO is unwilling or unable to deal with alone.

Bottom line .. do what needs to be done.  If this guy need to go, then cut him loose. Don't rationalize away the hard choice if it is clearly the proper path.

I did that very thing at my last job.  I knew immediately that one of the staff was not capable, but HR and the GM were hesitant because the previous manager had given him good reviews and he was well liked. It ended up taking three years and a bunch of other trouble to get him out. I should have pushed harder early to get the proper thing done.

asteriskrntt1's picture

No way you know everything in 2 weeks.  If it was that easy, they would not need you as a GM.  And although this is not always the outcome, people who fire people that the President wants to keep tend to be the one fired next and carrying a horrible reference from the company.