Thursday, May 18, 2006

Weak Managers vs. Dangerous Managers -- Can You Tell the Difference?

A 2,400 person enterprise can more easily absorb a dangerous manager compared to a 24 person start-up.

Identifying, developing, and retaining talent is a vital competency for entrepreneur business leaders, yet what I've found in my coaching work with founders is that it's one of the most overlooked and poorly planned functions.

The ideal of course is to hire top people: strong technical skills, strong communication skills, strong industry background, strong intellect, strong all around.

However, the ideal candidate doesn't walk through our door everyday, so compromises are made.

That's where we've got to be very thoughtful, because the difference between a manager who is weak in a particular area and one who is dangerous to the organization makes a world of difference.

A weak manager is aware of his weakness and is often smart enough to surround himself with the systems and people with the skill sets to compensate for that weakness. A dangerous manager minimizes, disregards, or neglects his weak areas. Thus, it should not surprise anyone that decisions made by that manager in this particular area are poor.

A weak manager may be well-intentioned as she develops a new capability. A dangerous manager lacks integrity between her words and her actions, and that can spread like a cancer through a company. One executive I've met said for a year at monthly meetings that she was handing her top priorities, yet the reported numbers and results didn't support those statements. At first her excuses were entertaining and amusing. Then when challenged, she became defensive. The president had to let her go because simple decisions and simple actions were not being completed in a reasonable timeframe.

Layoffs may seem cruel, but the costs of keeping a dangerous manager around are enormous.

Look at the cost of lost productivity in the department of a dangerous manager. Look at the quality of the hiring decisions a dangerous manager makes. Look at the cost of the scutteled initiatives, loss of customer goodwill, and drained morale a dangerous manager leaves as a trail.

I've gotten pretty good at spotting the differences between a weak but improving manager vs. a dangerous manager. How about you -- what do use to tell the difference?

No comments: