Any new manager may find himself or herself in this new and unpleasant situation. Sometimes unfortunately it is necessary to start thinking about the company and the team and not about each individual in particular no matter how great your relationship with each of them is. Remember that it's not fair for the team to do the work of someone unproductive (you may start losing the good ones at some point) and also remember that you may end up explaining to your managers your team's poor results. How does this sound?
If you decide that someone in your team is not performing as expected, do the following:
1. Discuss the matter directly with the person in a 1 to 1 meeting; allow them to explain as the situation may be caused by an isolated family matter or personal matter that makes them not perform for a limited period of time. Also, allow them to explain if they feel not motivated, if they would like a different job, tasks, if they feel they don't have enough opportunities to develop themselves. Don't jump to conclusions. Find out all you can about the employee's history. If they were performing well at some point, maybe something happened. Find out what and don't start firing people just like that;
2. If you are a new manager ask for advice from your own manager or from other fellow managers. They may have some tips and tricks about motivating people, about communicating with the individuals in the team, some pieces of advice from their previous experience. If you are lucky, one of them may even agree to evaluate your own employee and give you a second opinion. Maybe you are young and eager to impress and you push the team too hard;
3. If the employee doesn't have any personal matters and they are just not willing to perform, meet with them and tell them straight that you are not satisfied and that if they don't change, they will receive a termination notice. Try to prepare an Improvement Plan with clear deadlines and consequences for the employee not to have any surprises; do everything in writing and ask the employee to sign; ask HR for advice;
4. During the Improvement Plan implementation meet periodically to receive and offer feedback. If the employee is really willing to improve and keep their job, they will collaborate and ask for advice. Don't give more than 3 months to extend the illness unnecessarily. 3 months should be enough to see if the employee is willing to work with you and the team or not.
5. If in the end the final decision is to fire the individual, then before taking any action prepare your plan in detail. Think about the following - order of steps, timing and what you plan to say:
-communicate to the employee - the most difficult step; think if you plan to give them notice or you want them gone the next day; ask for advice from HR concerning labor law and potential restrictions, risks and problems that may occur; think what to tell them concerning reason, think what tasks they are still allowed to perform during the notice period, remove any materials/information they may use in a negative manner, talk to other managers that have been in your shoes before;
- communicate to the team; be straight, give real details and reasons - they may already suspect something and some ugly lies can generate unnecessary rumors;
- post the recruitment ad - internally or externally;
- think if the two people should meet or if you can pass the knowledge to the new joiner yourself;
This is it and good luck.
I want to become a manager
But also...do we really need managers?
A lot of employees think of management positions like they are the ultimate goal in their professional life; like they offer maximum satisfaction and that they prove and reward outstanding performance. Lots of companies offer hundreds of related trainings and thousands of management books sell in book stores every day.
Students and fresh graduates hope and dream to become managers while parents teach their kindergarten kids that being a manager is like being the king. The last one is a bit exaggerated, but you get the idea.
Reality check: do we really need all these managers? Wouldn’t the employees who actually do the real work be better on their own? Are all this time, money and effort to grow and use managers really necessary? So much money invested in trainings, so much time, so many preparations and in the end even more money to pay all these people…does the company get anything back?
All managers reading this post will reply for sure that “yes, they are really needed”. But my post is not for you, sorry guys, but for the people you manage. It’s one of my tricky HR FAQs – do we really need managers around? Most employees with non-management positions may reply “of course not, we can manage ourselves just fine”. So, how is it?
The answer is in the middle, both are right, we actually need managers “yes, sometimes” and here’s why:
- We need people in a company who are required to continuously check, analyze and adjust the big picture; all of you specialists know your tasks very well, but are too busy to know everything in the company; someone has to know all the processes (not necessarily in detail) to be able to confirm the right direction of the company and to implement any required changes;
- You need someone more experienced to confirm that you are doing a good job, to guide you and to help you improve. Why you may ask? I can decide myself or I can ask a colleague. But…your assessment is subjective and your colleague may not be honest; a manager may not be fair, but if you need improvement he will make sure you actually do it; you may be postponing trainings or forgetting about them; a manager will make sure you do all that is needed on time;
- You need someone to represent you in front of the company owners (if a company has 3000 employees, not all of them can go to owners directly – imagine the queue) and why not propose salary increases for you to reward your performance; have you thought that you may not have the suitable speech to convince and that your more experienced manager may know better how to present the situation to have costs approved? In the eyes of the owners, it’s all about the costs and the profit. You need strong arguments to have things your way. Do you have all of these arguments ready?
- You need someone to do the dirty job, the things you don’t like. Have you thought how many tasks managers have that they don’t like but which someone needs to do. Just a few ideas: tons of reports, answering in front of the company board for things that weren't achieved in your team, carrying out disciplinary actions for your team mates that don’t do their job (and whose job you need to do sometimes and of course you don’t like it), doing your job while you are sick or on vacation, meeting sales people from various partners, wasting time in conferences and meetings, staying overtime to meet with partners from a different time zone, traveling all the time (it can get annoying after a while, don’t imagine business traveling is all that fun, leaving your home and family for weeks and so on);
- We need managers to represent the company in front of partners and clients and to take responsibility for any failures concerning signing contracts and closing deals; if contracts are not signed and clients are gone, guess what happens to your job. Do you feel strong enough to do this task?
- You need someone to mediate any conflicts between you and your team mates for the job to go on and work to be done;
- You need someone to see your needs (material needs, development needs, motivation needs) and take care of you. Do you always feel strong enough to have your own back?
And the above are just a few. The list can go on. My point is that delegating tasks to non-managers is ideal. This makes them more responsible and engaged. However, managers are also needed as they bring experience, decision making skills and strength to the company. They connect employees and company owners and are mediators in various situations. Wondering about me? Just for your own curiosity, yes, I am a manager and yes, I feel and hope people need me :)