I have been managing a team of front line employees or individual contributors, as my boss calls my directs, for several years.  We have been quite successful and the group has grown over time. 

I have now hired an experienced manager to take over part of my team. My group is comprised of the following:

7 individual contributors, 1 administrative assistant, 1 manager with 7 direct reports of her own

The performance of the group of people that reports directly to me is fine.  I am a long time listener to th MT Podcasts and apply much of what I have learned here to the day to day management of my team. 

I am not getting the results that I would like from the new manager and her team.  She has been with me for 9 months now and I am not confident that she is "getting it".  We used to have weekly one on ones but, that wasn't working because her people needed information faster than she was able to get it to them (due to her learning curve) and they were bypassing her and coming directly to me.  We adjusted the one on ones to 20-30 minutes at the end of each day.  We talk either in person or via phone when we are commuting home on the train. 

I feel that if I wasn't reminding her to do everything, nothing would get done.  I find myself reminding her both verbally and in writing that certain reports are due multiple times.  Everything is getting done at the last minute (even though I have accelerated deadlines for her by at least 24 hours). 

Standard reporting of sales numbers that should be done weekly is talked about each day and at the end of the week, it isn't done.  This month, I actually questioned her about a particular person's sales results for 3 weeks straight because they were at a 0 and two days after the month ended, they were still not right.  Ultimately, I had to go in and fix it myself because her number rolls to mine so, if I didn't, it would affect my compensation as well.

It has been made clear to me that her failure would be my failure.  I understand this, I hired her, I need to make sure she is trained and has the tools she needs to effectively manage her team.  The problem I am having is that I am so busy filling in the gaps that I can't seem to address the root cause.  She has gone to the formal trainings that we offer.  I do have to force her to take a lot of the ancillary training that the company offers - she shows no initiative to seek out training on her own.

During the interview process, we established that this is not a 9 to 5 job.  Managers are often required to work in the evenings and on weekeds to keep up.  She never logs in from home in the evenings or weekends and as a result is constantly behind on email.  I get read receipts for emails that I sent to her days after they were sent.  I know that some messages are not getting to the team in a timely manner as a result. I see her direct reports suffering as a result and find myself reviewing a lot of this information in our skip level meetings. 

I am frustrated and angry about this.  I am stressed at the end of every single day and I know that this is showing with my team.  I have never been like this before and I am not sure how to address it.  It is having a negative affect on me and the team of people I manage.

Anyone have any suggestions on how I should adjust my approach to managing now that I am managing a manager? 



peterddw's picture

I certainly don't have the entire picture but at face value I sense that you will have to step up the emphasis on feedback and coaching. She certainly may still recover and you owe it to yourself, the organization as well as your manager to allocate the time for this process. You are correct a bad hire does reflect on you but the only thing worse is to have not managed the problem. None of us are perfect and this is where you gain the valuable experience that makes us wiser. The casts on feedback and coaching are very well thought out and systematic but you must carve out the time now. Skip ahead now a few months now have a better manager on track or the alternative you have recruited from the vast network of valuable unemployed skilled managers to build a better bench. NB documentation is very important so don't short change yourself on this essential component.


Mark's picture
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It IS frustrating, isn't it?

My  pre-recommendation is to let go of the fear you have that this person's failure is YOUR failure.  Thinking about protecting yourself doesn't lead to positive thoughts about the coaching and development of directs, in my experience.  Sure, it's worth an extra motivation point or two, but after that do everyone a favor and breathe in, breathe out, and move on.

Now then:

1. Stop filling in.  You can't do her job and yours, when your job includes coaching and developing her on top of your existing responsibilities.  You doing her job is - perversely, sadly - an incentive to her to keep not meeting all of the standards.  Now, to be clear, I know what I'm asking sounds scary.  You're going to go through a SHORT period where she will drop a ball, and you won't pick it up, and there will be more negative consequences.  It's a form of the Horstman Curve.  But you HAVE to go over it with her, by following up with step 2 below.

And if she doesn't do something, tell her to do it NOW.  And wait for it to be done.  And then give her feedback on being late.  THAT is a consequence that causes different behavior than you doing it for her.

2. Give her WAY more feedback.  Bathe her in it.  Do it until she gets sick of it.  If she deserves it.  But re-listen to the Heart of Feedback cast first.  PLEASE re-listen to the Heart of Feedback.  PLEASE.

3. Re-commit to One on Ones.  The dailies are making things worse.  Shorten them, and then eliminate them.

4. When you have to correct her work, FEEDBACK.  With the Heart of Feedback in it.

5. Make sure you do feedback WELL, so you can move to systemic feedback when you have to.

6. You contributed to this problem.  Honestly, I'm not attacking you here...just want you to recognize that YES, she is the PRIMARY cause...but she's not the ONLY cause, so don't PUNISH her like she is.  STAY FROSTY.  Easy does it.  Let the weight of many small things add up, rather than trying to change her NOW.

7. You're doing better than you think, I'd bet.  Sounds like she's struggling, and you're worried.  Nothing wrong with that.  Just try not to let her see you sweat.  Least of all about her.

If you continue to struggle, PM me and we'll talk on the phone.


Soterickal1's picture

Thanks Peter and Mark!  Your feedback is appreciated. 

I am going back to the podcasts to take another listen just to make sure I am doing the right things. 

I think I knew that the whole filling in thing was really not the right thing to do in the back of my mind and that is why I am so frustrated about it.  I wouldn't fill in for one of my front line directs like that, why should I fill in for a manager?  I am reacting to the pressure I am getting from above and not sticking to what I know works.  I am going to go back to the basics of the Trinity and I am sure it will all work out.

I will keep you posted!

:)  Thanks!!!