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One of my directs has seen three of her directs (my skips) resign to take another job. On each of the exit interviews, the skips pointed to their supervisor's autocratic behavior as the reason they began seeking new job opportunities.

How would you approach the direct on the issue when you do not have the specific behaviors that are setting folks off and causing them to leave. :?:

The direct is a hard and passionate worker and transfering her is not an option.

TomW's picture

well that depends. What kind of relationship do you have with your direct? Have you seen any behavior that would support such accusations?

Three resignations for the same reason means that this person may have a side that you are not seeing. Is her individual performance worth losing three people over (so far... who knows how many more)?

lucaminudel's picture

[quote="TomW"] Is her individual performance worth losing three people over (so far... who knows how many more)?[/quote]

imho happines and the ability to retain talened people in the teams are 2 effective metrics to tell that the team is performing well

so probably the is a a real problem in the team that must be addressed

[quote="TomW"]Have you seen any behavior that would support such accusations?[/quote]

totally agree with this question, what is the root cause for the problem?
imho look yourself and ask "why?" (the 5 Whys)

bflynn's picture

One is normal, two is coincidence, three is a pattern.

I have seen this happen at a previous company. A new manager took over a very well respected services division and within a year had lost 9 of his 12 most senior people.

The problem is the manager's and yours by extension.

1) Her management style is the cited reason. She gets feedback and coaching on it starting now.
2) Hold skip level meetings. I don't know the size, but you want to send the message that you know something is wrong. The directs know it and today they think you're clueless and aren't going to fix it.

If it were me, I'd have one general skip level plus one with her reports specifically. Repeat them again in 2-4 weeks as needed.

Last - you say that your direct is a hard worker and transfer is not an option. Transfer or even release must be an option, but not until you've been down the coaching road. She might be a hard worker and have a very good reputation based on her previous job, but today, in this job, she is not so good. Ask yourself - if there wasn't history, if this were a new person in this job, would you be the same? Are you being lenient because of her previous performance that got her promoted to this job?

Brian

drinkcoffee's picture

Team attrition is an expensive concern, especially when you have data that indicates that it's the manager's fault (it usually is anyway). If it were me, the feedback to the direct would go something like, "when 3 valuable members of your team leave and cite you as the cause, here's what happens: the company has to spend more money to replace and train them, and I wonder how much respect the rest of the team has for you and if they are willing to deliver results. What can you do differently?"

asteriskrntt1's picture

Forgive my bluntness but if you need exit interviews to learn that your direct is autocratic and hard to work for, the issue is with you before it is with your direct.

*RNTT

etdave's picture

I wouldn't have skip meetings. They would send a message that you don't know your directs. A feed back session is in order, with coaching soon after. Your direct needs to know that you are concerned.

You may find that your direct is under some external pressures that you don't know about. Even the best O3's don't tun up everything.

TomW's picture

[quote="etdave"]I wouldn't have skip meetings. They would send a message that you don't know your directs. A feed back session is in order, with coaching soon after. Your direct needs to know that you are concerned.

You may find that your direct is under some external pressures that you don't know about. Even the best O3's don't tun up everything.[/quote]

Skip meetings (meeting with your direct's directs) are important. You need to make sure that your messages are reaching far enough down in the organization and that their messages are reaching you.

They have little to do with how well you know your directs.

Managers should be having them whether things are going well or not.

lucaminudel's picture

[quote="etdave"]A feed back session is in order[/quote]

[quote="etdave"]You may find that your direct is under some external pressures that you don't know about. Even the best O3's don't tun up everything.[/quote]

Brian told that 3 is a pattern. That is. And you need to discover the real cause of this.

drinkcoffee told that it usually is manager's fault. For sure manager have more responsibilities because it is his job, anyway we are talking about a work-relationship. A relationship is made by _2_ people.

A genuine conversation with your direct and his team is the way to find what's the real problem, and you need to know it if you wanna help to remove that obstacle.

etdave's picture

[quote] TomW
Skip meetings (meeting with your direct's directs) are important. You need to make sure that your messages are reaching far enough down in the organization and that their messages are reaching you. [/quote]

I agree that skip meetings are important and should be happening.

I should have started with; before skip meetings......

RobRedmond's picture

I don't know that a direct's team jumping ship is necessarily a bad thing, folks. It's only a bad thing if it is top performers that are leaving. If they are mediocre or worse, their leaving is opportunity knocking on the door, because hiring is 90% of what a manager does to be effective. And now you get to hire replacements without having to fire anyone or lay anyone off. No guilt. No mess.

Perhaps your direct has taken on a team, been properly demanding of them, and they are failing all over the place and are running away before he drops the hammer on them.

Skip level meetings - and everything in the podcasts - is a great idea and will help. I advise you re-examine your practice of O3's, skip levels, your open door policy and how you welcome your skips into your office.

fchalif's picture

Dragoon,

There many great posts in this thread advising you. The last one by Rob highlights the need for better appreciation of the context of your entire team's performance.

Is your team meeting its goals?
Is the Company meeting its goals?
Is your Direct asking for these 3 leavers to be replaced urgently?
Is the team's short term objectives at risk?

Answer a few of these questions, and a few more, and you can put it all into better context. Given the bad financial times, focus more on non financial objectives your team may have, as financial objectives may have been hard to achieve anyways.

But also do O3s, Feedback, Coaching and Skip levels. There is definitely feedback required about the "autocratic" behavior.

dragoon's picture

Folks,
Thanks for the diverse insights. They all have a common thread woven through them - I need to spend more time on the O3 and coaching with her.

The one point that I did not outline and that has severely curtailed my success at carrying out O3s, feedback, and coaching with this subordinate is our relationship.

I started my career as a peer with this subject, which quickly expanded into a strong friendship. Our spouses are close and our network of friends are the same.

I have tried to suppress my past observations of this subject (remember I was vieiwing them from the context as her peer). I did not think it would be fair to judge this person from that history.

Interestingly enough, I too experience this obstinate behavior as her superior, but I have always chalked that up to the difficulty of friends working together. Also, the skips who departed advised me that they did not feel comfortable sharing with me their concerns over the last year because they had "heard" of my firendship with this person. So the skip levels and my open door policy were ineffective based on their perceptions.

Your posts have made it clear that I need to engage myself directly in the issue or risk other high quality candidates moving on. I guess what hurts the most is that I spent an inordinate amount of time recruiting the folks that left and they will certainy leave a void for some time now that hiring has all but shut down with the austere climate we find ourselves.

Thank you all for your posts. They have given me a lot to chew on. I certainly welcome additional insight.