I enjoy posts written by my consulting friends and plan to share some of them with my readers from time to time. Today’s post is about some warning signs that may indicate you may have the wrong person for your leadership role. The author is Lee Silverstein, Founder and Executive Job Coach at Tampa Bay Job Coach.
Lee Silverstein has 29 years experience in leadership and organizational development, training, interviewing and hiring. He coaches clients on how to leverage the vast array of social media platforms to help them be discovered by recruiters and hiring managers. Lee also advises clients on building an effective resume, how to network effectively and successful interview skills. He can be reached via his website: Tampa Bay Job Coach
5 Signs Your Frontline Manager Is Drowning
by Lee Silverstein, Tampa Bay Job Coach
I remember back when I was in the retail business and I had just been promoted to “Store Manager”. I knew I had lots to learn and made it a point to get to the store early each morning. Every morning I arrived at work, Steve (not his real name) would already be there; sleeves rolled up, tie undone and rings of perspiration under his arms. “Good morning boss” he would always utter with a smile. “Did he sleep here?” I would often wonder to myself. Being in the retail business, I put in my share of hours, but most of the time Steve was there when I arrived in the morning and when I left in the evening. It was not unusual for Steve to show up on his day off too. While I admired Steve’s attitude and hard work, he was drowning. The signs were everywhere.
Warning Sign #1 - The Manager Lacks Delegation Skills.
It was clear from Steve’s behavior that he subscribed to the adage “if you want something done right, do it yourself”, but like the saying goes “the harder he worked, the behinder he got.” Either no one had trained Steve on the art of delegation and follow-up or he didn’t retain what he was taught. While Steve worked, his employees stood around, arms crossed, discussing last night’s episode of The X Factor.
Warning Sign #2 - The Manager Hasn’t Empowered Their Team To Make Decisions.
Walking through the store the most common sound I heard, next to the ringing of registers, was “Steve Smith, please call extension 1234.” Every 30, minutes it seemed, one of Steve’s associates would page him with a question or to handle a problem. Steve had not empowered his associates to make any decisions for themselves. Even the most minor issue required him to intervene. This was also the reason why Steve was late for most meetings.
Warning Sign #3 - There Is High Associate Turnover, Particularly With New-Hires, In The Manager’s Area of Responsibility.
With the exception of 2 “long-timers” there was practically a revolving associate door on Steve’s department. As soon as an associate was hired, another would leave. New associates quickly became frustrated over the lack of training and direction from their manager.
Warning Sign #4 - There is 1 or 2 “Veteran” Associates That Are Very Loyal to the Manager.
You’re probably wondering why this is a problem. It’s been my experience that managers like Steve rely on 1 or 2 long-tenured associates to cover their…..rear. In exchange they get preferential treatment from their manager (like prime schedules) which creates resentment from the new associates (refer back to Warning Sign #3).
Warning Sign #5 - Associates Are Constantly Going Over Their Manager’s Head To Resolve Minor Issues.
It was an almost daily occurrence. One of Steve’s employees would track down the assistant store manager to complain that Steve forgot to input their vacation request or changed their schedule without telling them. The result? Refer back to #3…again.
So how did Steve wind up in a leadership role in the first place? I found out that Steve was a top salesperson at another location. Apparently this resulted in his promotion to front line manager.
In her blog post “I’m a Supervisor, Jim, Not a Leader“, Melissa Kovacevic states:
Unless a Supervisor was chosen for their Leadership potential, the ability to Inspire, Motivate and Coach in addition to their Service/good employee skills, they will often focus on what they have done well in their (previous) role……All the Supervisory classes and all the mentoring in the world will still result in a mediocre to poor Supervisor for your team if you didn’t promote someone with the “right stuff”.
Sadly, this describes Steve to a “T”. After many coaching sessions with Steve it was apparent that Steve did not have the “right stuff” and the time came for me to tell him this directly. I owed it to Steve to be (brutally) honest with him. I’ve always believed that there is a place where everyone can be successful. The longer you allow them to struggle in a position where that won’t happen, the longer you’re keeping them from finding that success. This is how I “rescued” Steve from drowning.