Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Being a Manager

Being a manager is great when everything is humming along swimmingly. Things aren't so great when someone who works for you isn't doing the bang-up job you'd hoped for. Performance issues are some of the hardest things to deal with. You have a responsibility to the company and the rest of the employees to address the issue, but when you're as afraid of conflict as I tend to be, it's downright terrifying. I've had several issues I've had to deal with in my career, and the hardest are the ones with people that really want to do the work, and be good at it, but they just aren't getting there.

This most recent issue has been one of those times.

Bruce* has a great attitude, and really wants to be at the company. He tries hard, and wants to do a great job in the position, but he's just not picking things up. I have explained things differently, and over again, and again, and again. I have had other people explain the concepts to him (thinking a different approach might be all he needs). I have adjusted my expectations, knowing that I am a hard boss and it can be difficult to meet my very high expectations for those who work for me. I've gone back and forth over and over about what I didn't do right -- what I didn't teach him, what I might have expected him to pick up on on his own, etc. Believe me, if people who used to work for me at other companies didn't ask me on a regular basis if they could come work for me again, I would take these times hard and assume I was a terrible manager. However, at some point I have to say he isn't the right fit for this job. That is what I finally had to do, and proceeded to have a heart-to-heart with Bruce. Nice guy that he is, he made my job a little easier, and decided to quit. He's finishing out the week, and then it's on to other things.

I would love to never have these kinds of situations come up again. Invariably, though (unless I start working somewhere where the only employee is me), it will. As my mentor told me when I had my very first situation like this come up when I was in my first management role, "If this gets easy, it's time to stop managing people." I've taken that to heart, and I hope I've been kind to Bruce. In time I hope he even sees that this leads to some sort of positive change in his life.

Good luck to you, Bruce. I truly mean that.

* Name changed to protect privacy.


Monica said...

Being a manager is not my thing, and I truly admire you for the courage and sticktuitiveness you possess.

James said...

It's sometimes hard (especially for people in Bruce's position) to realize this, but if someone isn't going to thrive in a particular situation it will probably be better in the long run for that person to find a position in which he or she can thrive.

Finding that out soon rather than devoting years or a lifetime to what will be a lost cause is usually better. And an honest heart to heart that allows someone to leave with good references and no acrimony is much better than getting fired for not being up to the job.

Aaron said...

I completely understand. I did the whole manager thing before. It can be tough. But your situation...I don't can you sleep at night? ;)