In the last two articles I talked about the signs your management team sucks, and why your management sucks (and who to promote instead), and now we’re going to talk about what to do if your management sucks. This is something you need to fix if you want your organization to thrive.
I will reiterate the points that bad managers cost the economy billions of dollars by some estimates. They cause low morale, low engagement, and employee attrition. There’s little that can’t be blamed on bad management, but the good news is that there’s little that good management can’t fix.
Think of all those newspaper publishers out there, wishing they’d just had one visionary editor who just listened to those crazy kids when the kids said the internet wasn’t a fad. If only.
If your management team is already problematic, you should try to fix it immediately. Here are some tips on how upper management can do that.
1. Don’t ignore the problem. Address it head on, and quickly. The longer you wait the more it will cost you.
2. Talk to your problem managers. Open lines of communication are imperative if you’re going to fix the problem. Open the door and start talking.
3. Outline the issue. Convey, as diplomatically as possible, that there is a problem. Some probably have no idea. You deal with a problematic manager the same way you would any problem employee: by giving clear feedback. This means organizing your points beforehand and presenting them clearly.
4. Listen. Maybe the fix is easy. Is the manager frustrated by broken communication lines, or lack of access to resources? While that’s no excuse for bad behaviour, it would help to know where the issues lie from their perspective. Sometimes all people need is to feel that they are heard.
5. Outline a plan and stick to it. Set improvement goals and lay out a clear plan for the manager to follow. A goal is easier to reach than no goal. Then check in regularly.
6. Offer whatever resources you can. Can you offer a course in leadership or diplomacy? If the employee was promoted for skills other than leadership, they need to be shown how to lead. And if you put them into this position unprepared it is your responsibility to fix that problem and make the opportunity to gain the required skills available to them.
7. Restructure. Here’s a big idea – Terminate them if you have to, if all else fails, but if they’re valuable, why not move them? If you promoted this person from a position in which they were a top performer, maybe you should restructure them back into that role. This doesn’t have to be a demotion if you change your way of thinking about career pathing and reward systems – as discussed here. Put that employee back where they brought the most value and pay them for that value – Obviously don’t cut their pay. It’s too late for that. – and put someone with leadership skills in the leadership role – and pay them accordingly. Maybe it’s not as much as the other guy. It’s the pay for performance ( or “pay unfairly”) model. And it works for Google. You get your valuable employee back. Everyone wins. I know, 99.9999% of you won’t do this, but some of you should consider it. The way we’ve always done things isn’t necessarily the best way.