The Entrepreneur and the Promoted Employee (2of2)

published in: Case studies

24 Nov
2011

The situation is described in detail in The Entrepreneur and the Promoted Employee (1of2).  The summary follows:

You are an entrepreneur.  The first year was very successful for you.  Your company has grown to 18 members.  You took the right decision to promote an employee to a manager in your biggest 9 staff department - Customer Service department.

Peter is your best employee in that department and you promote him to Customer Service Manager.

6 months later you find out that Peter is still your best employee, but he is not appropriate for manager.  He fails to praise and reprimand his subordinates, sets low department goals, etc.  You have set 2 business objectives:



Business Objective 1:
Creating conditions for department growth by appointing capable manager, possibly a leader (about the difference between leader and manager read here), on Peter’s position.

Business Objective 2:
Keeping Peter in the company.


However, if you cannot achieve both goals, which one would you choose?

The purpose of any enterprise, and the only way for its long-term survival is to generate profit.  Therefore, if the circumstances force us to choose - we choose business objective 1.


Let’s investigate the following 2 options:

Option 1: The company has no suitable employee to be appointed as Manager "Customer Service".

Option 2: The department has an employee with appropriate education and managerial potential.


For both options we need to get thoroughly prepared.  Each word must be carefully selected and sincere, but in no case we should memorize the speech.  We should not criticize or reproach Peter in any way.



Under Option 1 we have the opportunity to approve an external candidate before talking to Peter.  How?  By hiring a recruitment company to find a manager, we could prevent rumours spoil our plan.

Undoubtedly the hardest part is talking to Peter.  A possible general approach:

  1. The conversation should be held in a quiet environment: switched off the phones etc. If necessary, conduct it outside the office.
  2. Start with how difficult it is and how awkward we feel.
  3. Emphasize how valuable employee Peter is and specify several labour feats of his.
  4. Acknowledge we have committed unforgivable mistake by not taking into consideration that manager's position will require actions that hamper Peter’s friendly relations with his former colleagues, such as: pushing them achieve higher results, reprimands..
  5. Repeat that we want to keep him in the company at any cost.
  6. Retain Peter’s pride in colleagues eyes:
    6.1.  create for Peter a high representative position, without managerial functions, such as Senior Specialist, Chief Adviser, in line with specific positions in your company.
    6.2.  keep Peter’s salary at the highest level he have achieved throughout his carrier in the company.
    6.3.  over the next few months often consult Peter, to show him how much we value him.
  7. Appeal to Peter’s desire to support department growth and "request" permission from Peter an external manager to be hired.
  8. On specific occasions require the new manager to consult Peter.
    With such an approach, and many contingencies, we could predict 2:1 chances Peter to remain in the company. The chances are highly dependent on Peter’s personality.



    The more difficult option is Option 2: The department has employee with appropriate education and managerial potential:
  1. The conversation should be held in a quiet environment. However, unlike Option 1, the conversation should be held in the office - we need it to look like a routine meeting between the entrepreneur and his manager.
  2. Acknowledge Peter’s importance with specific examples, what star he was as an employee, how much positive energy he had, how without him the company would not have achieved such big success.
  3. Express our fears, by emphasizing we might be wrong, that Peter does not feel comfortable in the position Customer Service Manager, because now he does not emit that positive energy he used to. We finally ask him how he really feels.


If Peter replies that as an employee he felt much better, we agree with him and offer to find together a solution that will return him that positive energy he had.  We offer him high representative position without managerial functions and keep his the current salary. We tell him how much we value him and apologize that 6 months we have forced him to accept the ungrateful position Customer Service Manager. We share with Peter we wish to work together till the end of the world… We offer him to finalize everything the next day in order he to have the chance to reflect on the subject free of any emotions.
In such a scenario, the chance Peter to remain in the company is very high.


However, if Peter replies he is very much pleased with the managerial position and he feels great, and everything is just fine, then a serious problem arises. For some reason Peter is unaware that he doesn’t coop with his managerial duties (for which we bear responsibility too), or he is unwilling to lose his position, or we haven’t established proper working relationships -strong enough he to speak with us openly (for which again we also have responsibility).
We ask Peter within 2 working days to provide a report what he liked at his old position and what he likes at his present one, and consequently what he doesn’t like. We try to provide him what he liked at both positions. We offer him high representative position, without managerial functions, and keep his managerial salary. We apologize that 6 months ago we have forced him to accept the position Customer Service Manager and thus we have deprived him of the opportunity to use his strongest qualities (concrete examples).
Then we leave the department without manager for a few weeks so everybody to feel the need of department manager.
During this period we often ask Peter for advises on company issues to witness how much we appreciate him as a specialist.
We share with Peter that a Customer Service manager should be appointed and a week later we promote the other colleague.
We require the newly appointed manager to ask advises from Peter on specific occasions.
In this scenario, regardless of our efforts, the chances Peter to leave the company are rather high, because he assesses the situation differently.

There is no universal remedy for cases like this one because participants made the case unique, inimitable. It is important we, as entrepreneurs, managers, leaders in similar situations to act openly, honestly and with integrity
in the best interest of the company's success
with the right people
on the right positions
.

 

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