Terminating Management

Not very often does a senior manager ever get fired.  They will resign and claim some other priority is causing them to choose to move in a different direction.  We all know this person was forced out, and sometimes it is common knowledge as to why, and yet the whole concept of terminating the employment of a senior manager is usually avoided.

The main cause is the fear of a wrongful termination suit.  Let’s face it, most companies with their HR and Legal teams leading the charge are so afraid of the legal system they bend over backwards to avoid terminating any employee, but especially their senior managers.  They are more prone to terminate entry-level staff, but allow inappropriate behaviors to exist in managers for way too long.

I’m from the school of thought that says that when a senior manager is behaving inappropriately, everyone in the company knows about it.  When they continue to be employed, the message is sent rather quickly that the behavior is okay when it comes from a senior manager.  However, when we terminate these employees, the word gets out even faster that the behavior is not okay and that the consequences are severe.

There is a company right now today, with a senior manager that has a problem with his mouth spouting off the wrong things at the wrong times in front of the wrong people.  Although he has been written up numerous times for his insensitive behaviors, he is close to retirement and the powers to be just hope he retires soon.  That is the ultimate corrective action isn’t it?  Just wait their behavior out until they retire!

Valuable Performance Reviews

Years ago when I used to train managers how to complete and conduct performance reviews, I used to encourage managers to realize the impact of this process.  The form they were completing and the conversation they would have with an employee is a vital part of what motivates an employee to perform or decide to quit.

While some managers make the performance review process some kind of Algebra equation, that multiples and divides a series of equations by performance objective and ultimately pops out a rating, others look at factors that are not as black and white, but can make the difference in how an employee reacts.

In some performance reviews it is a numbers game.  You as a manager may be forced to rate particular objectives in a very straight forward way and the results will be the same no matter who is rating the performance.  Yet if this is how performance reviews are managed from the top of the form to the bottom, then why not just leave the process to the computer to spit out?

Performance reviews are an opportunity to share with an employee the perceived results of an employees performance in key areas, and the overall impact this employee has on the unit and company.  While sometimes compensation is tied to employee performance ratings, in today’s economy we are not normally talking about sweeping dollar extremes if we rate on the lower side to save a few dollars.

I used to encourage managers to read the finished review as if they were the receiver of the news.  Then ask yourself if you were this employee, would you agree with the results?  Assuming you agree with the results, is the rating appropriate?

I’ve seen countless times where a manager has used a rating of say “Met” with someone who has pulled out all the stops but came in just under a mathematical “Exceeds” rating.  Granted the rating is technically valid, but the manager just shot a hole in the employees ship.  Overtime that hole fills with dissatisfaction over their perceived value, and the employee either performs less the next time, or quits to work for the competition.

Imagine that an entire unit comes in at a “Did Not Meet” rating by that macro decimal point.  What does this do to the overall moral?  What would have been the difference if everyone was rated a “Met” even though technically they missed the mark?  Would they not strive to live up to expectations going forward?

My point is that it takes very little effort to rate someone a little higher than they may have technically earned, and the results can be so much more valuable for everyone.

For Sale By Owner

When you think of the phrase “For Sale By Owner” what first comes to mind? Maybe when selling your house, car or other large item. I guess it could fit anything we own and have the right to sell, and we are not getting help from anyone else to sell it.

Last week someone in my inner circle who likes to kid me, connected the efforts of a consultant like me marketing services to a For Sale By Owner advertisement. Upon a moment of reflection I laughed, and said I guess I am advertising my services that way. I am the product, and since I charge for my services I am “For Sale.”

I find it odd that when I worked internally, I never saw myself as the Chief Selling Officer for training. I was meeting a need the company had with a performance solution. I and my team did this over and over again and we kept our jobs, earned our paychecks and we made a difference to the success of the company.

So why is it so hard for this same process to work outside of an internal role? When I was a salaried person I got paid every two weeks. Granted I worked hard for my paycheck, but did I really need to? I would have been paid anyhow, at least until it dawned on someone that I was not doing anything. And yet as an external consultant, managers expect all sorts of free consulting, free advice, free products and they call it testing you out.

I find myself being asked to speak at conferences every so often for travel and expenses only, no speaker fee. I’m told they don’t have the money and want me to write it off as a marketing expense. That works sometimes when the audience actually buys my services after the engagement, but most of the time that is a long shot. Conferences are being promoted with sizeable fees to attend, and the organizers are the ones making money. Without the speakers there would not be a conference.

The whole concept of the occasional free speaking engagement, free consulting is that it will come back to the consultant in the form of business. After all, having expenses is only cool when they reduce the taxable earnings. But what happens when the expenses exceed the earnings?

If you were selling your house as a “For Sale By Owner” would you let people live in it for a week to see if they liked it? Or if you are selling your car, would it be okay if they took a 3-day test drive and drained the gas tank? My guess is your answer is absolutely not. So why should I keep working for nothing?

An HR Manager told me a few months back that she likes to pick my brain. I must have been having an off day because without thinking I said, “I’m glad you think I’m valuable, but the sample tray is getting empty.” Ding! She said, “my word, I have been abusing your kindness.” I let that comment go without a response. I wonder if it will make a difference.

In the mean time, let everyone you know that in addition to a truck I have for sale, I am also selling my services – “Jim Hopkins – For Sale By Owner!”  (And I need money for both the truck and me)