Tag Archives: manager once removed

That Would Be Me

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“But, it’s an open role on Derrick’s team. I am not trying to argue, just trying to understand why, as Derrick’s manager, I am accountable for quarterbacking this recruiting process?” Roy continued to push back.

____________S-III – Manager (Roy)
________S-II – Supervisor (Derrick)
____S-I – Technician Team (Open role)

“Derrick is about to make a decision,” I explained. “As hiring manager, he has to have minimum veto authority over who gets on his team. This decision he is about to make could be a great decision or a poor decision. Whichever way he decides, who do I hold accountable for the quality of his decision?”

“Well, it is his decision. He must be accountable,” Roy continued to squirm.

“No. I assume Derrick is doing his very best and it is his manager I hold accountable for his output. Who is his manager?”

“That would be me,” Roy grimaced.

The People System

Roy was still pushing back. “How can you hold me accountable for quarterbacking the hiring process for Derrick’s team? It’s his team. He is the supervisor.”

“Roy, let’s look at the levels of work in this hiring process. Starting with Stratum I level of work, that would be the technicians on Derrick’s team,” I described. “What is the team’s focus?”

“They run the machines, stack the materials, they do production,” Roy replied.

“And Derrick’s role is supervisor. What is his focus?”

“In his role as supervisor, he makes sure production gets done. He schedules the team, makes sure the materials are all there, makes sure the machines are in running order, makes sure the output of the team matches the work orders for each day.”

________Stratum II – Supervisor – Derrick
____ Stratum I – Technician Team

“What is the time frame of his focus?” I prompted.

Roy turned his head, “He has to look out, one to two weeks. Some of the materials take time to get. We can’t run out, that shuts production down.”

“What is the longest lead time item,” I asked.

“We have some materials, like custom packaging that can take as long as six months to get. If we run out of our custom packaging, that production cell would be shut down. That’s why we never run out.”

“And you. You are Derrick’s manager. What is your focus?”

____________ Stratum III – Manager – Roy
________ Stratum II – Supervisor – Derrick
____ Stratum I – Technician Team

“I have a longer term focus. I look at the system, the way everything works together,” Roy replied.

“Just looking at personnel, what do you focus on?”

“Well, Derrick may determine who shows up on any given day, but I determine how many people are on Derrick’s team, including new trainees, extra people to rotate in, when people are sick or workload goes up. Derrick may ask for an extra guy, but I decide if he gets it or not. I use production models based on historical data to determine the optimum size of the team given the forecast we get from the sales department.”

“So you are in charge of the people system?” I clarified.

“Yes, that’s right.”

“That’s why I hold you accountable for quarterbacking the recruiting process to fill a technician role on Derrick’s team.”
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Who Is the Quarterback of the Hiring Team?

“I am Derrick’s manager, but Derrick is the one with the opening on his team, a position that has been open since April,” Roy protested. “How can you hold me accountable?”

“You are Derrick’s manager, I hold you accountable for his output,” I insisted.

“But he is the one who hasn’t done his job. He hasn’t hired anyone, not my fault,” Roy placed a line in the sand.

“He is on your team. One of your responsibilities is to decide who is on your team. Derrick is on your team. I hold you accountable. More than that, for this open role, you are the manager-once-removed. As the manager-once-removed, it is your responsibility to quarterback this hiring process.”

“Well. I have been telling him he needs to hire someone. What else am I supposed to do?” Roy grimaced.

“Derrick is the hiring manager, but you are the manager-once-removed. As the manager-once-removed, as the quarterback of this process, what steps could you have taken to make the situation better?”
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His Team, His Problem

“Why should I get involved?” Roy protested. “My team is full. Derrick is the one who needs to hire someone.”

“Is Derrick on your team?” I asked.

“Yes, but he is the hiring manager, it is his team, his problem.”

“And you are Derrick’s manager?” I pressed.

“Yes, I am Derrick’s manager.”

“And Derrick is underperforming?” I continued.

“Yes, he needs to hire someone, and it’s been three months,” Roy explained.

“So, who do I hold accountable for Derrick’s underperformance?”

Roy thought for a moment, sat up in his chair, “You have to hold Derrick accountable, he is the one who needs to hire someone for his team.”

“What if I told you that I thought Derrick was doing his best and it was his manager I hold accountable?”

“Well, I am his manager, but it’s not my hire. How can you hold me accountable?”
Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now.

Whipping Session

“Armand, I am glad you could make the time to meet with Sam and me,” I started. “I was talking with Sam yesterday about the role description he was writing for the Project Manager position.”

“Yes,” Armand quickly jumped in. “I told Sam that I was tired of some of his projects coming in over budget. I think his last two hires were way off base.”

“Why do you think they were off base?” I prompted.

“I don’t think Sam knows enough about what he expects out of that position. Project Management for our complex projects is a tough job. I don’t think Sam has a clear idea of the critical role requirements. The new PM he hired barely knows how to use our project management software.”

“Armand, do you hold Sam accountable for the output of his project management team?”

“Yes. Yes, I do,” he replied.

“And, which manager should I hold accountable for Sam’s output?”

Armand thought we were going to have a whipping session with Sam as the recipient. Armand was suddenly in the hot seat.

“I guess, that would be me,” he slowly replied.
Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now.

Every Manager’s Dilemma

“So, how do I get my team of supervisors to spend more time, or at least do a better job of qualifying candidates for those open production roles?” Wendy asked.

“You’re not,” I dropped my chin, coupled with a knowing glare. I waited.

“What do you mean? There must be a way. They have to take this recruiting stuff more seriously,” she protested.

“They won’t. Your team of supervisors is focused on production, they are not focused on building a team. Sure they know they are down a person on their crew, but their primary focus is on production.” I let Wendy squirm a bit.

_________ Manager
______ Supervisor
___ Technician

“But you said that my most important function, as a new manager, is to focus on the team, to focus on who is on the team. How can I do that if my team of supervisors is focused on production and they don’t take recruiting seriously?”

“Indeed. That is your dilemma. That is every manager’s dilemma. The reason your team of supervisors don’t focus on building their team has to do with time span. It is their role to field a team for today’s production, this week’s production, or for the night shift, but the time span of that task, for them, is short.”

“Why do I get the feeling that this is going to end up in my lap?” Wendy looked, then smiled.

“Because, if you have open roles in production, your team of supervisors are the hiring managers, and YOU are the manager-once-removed. As the manager-once-removed, you have specific accountabilities in the recruiting process, and those issues are longer term. While your team of supervisors is responsible for today’s production, you, as the manager-once-removed are accountable for overall production capacity, efficiency in training programs, employee retention. As the manager-once-removed, I expect you to quarterback this recruiting effort. As the quarterback, you don’t have to run the ball, but you have to call the plays. You have to make sure that role descriptions are written, and clearly understood. You have to make sure that written questions are generated specifically related to the production work that we do here. You have to make sure that we have identified the critical role requirements and that our questions to candidates collect real data about the work. If one of the supervisors on your team makes a poor hiring decision, I hold you accountable for the quality of that decision. It’s all a matter of time span.”
Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now.

Why the Turnover?

“So, think about who?” I prompted. Wendy was a new manager, grappling with her first days on the job.

“Well, right now, I am the manager of a team of four supervisors. They each have more than two years with the company, a total of twelve years between them. I worked alongside them as a supervisor. I have respect for each of their talents. I think I am all set,” Wendy replied.

“You are all set with your immediate team of supervisors. What about each of their production teams? Are there any holes in those teams?”

“Oh, yes, there is always some turnover, and I know there are some openings that need to be filled right now. Hopefully, they will spend some time each day trying to fill those positions,” she explained.

“I promise you, they won’t. In fact, it’s not even on their radar.”

“What do you mean? If they have an opening, I am sure they will try to fill it,” Wendy pushed.

“Fill it with whom?” I pushed back. “In the role of supervisor, the primary responsibility is production, make sure production gets done. They have a hole on their production team. Find somebody to fill it, please, and fast, because they have production to get out the door. Their focus is production, not hiring.”

“But, it’s their team, they are the hiring manager. As a supervisor, they get to pick their team members.”

“But, their focus is production. When you watch your supervisors, in the hiring process, what do you see?”

Wendy stopped pushing back. Her eyes went to the ceiling for a nanosecond. “You are right. They talk to a couple of candidates for about ten minutes and then pick somebody. They don’t really spend a lot of time. Maybe that’s why those production roles turn over more than we would like.”
Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now.

Relationship for the MOR at S-V

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

For a system architect at S-III, you described the role of their manager at S-IV. What would be the role of the manager-once-removed at S-V?

S-V – Manager-once-removed (5-10 year objectives)
S-IV – Manager (2-5 year objectives)
S-III – System architect (1-2 year objectives)

The relationship between the manager at S-IV and the system architect at S-III is an accountability relationship. When they get together, they talk about the work, solving problems and making decisions. The manager at S-IV is accountable for the output of the S-III system architect.

The relationship between the manager-once-removed at S-V and the system architect at S-III is a mentoring relationship. When they get together, they talk about –

  • Challenge in the role
  • Work environment
  • Training interests
  • Long term career opportunities

The focus for the S-V manager-once-removed is on strategic objectives 5-10 years out, so the question is, how will this S-III system architect contribute to my strategic objectives over the next 5-10 years? Will this system architect become more capable over time and be able to assume an S-IV role over the next 5-10 years?

What’s the Work of a System Architect at S-III

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

So, yes, we have an individual technical contributor, a system architect role, at S-III, with no reports. Does this then mean the system architect fulfills “production” and that a Stratum IV role would be the supervisor and a Stratum V role would create the system? Or, would you say that the system architect fulfills all three roles? Or something different altogether?

Again, this question reveals a couple of important issues.

  • What is production work at S-III?
  • What is the role of the manager at S-IV and the manager-once-removed at S-V?

In some business models, especially B2B, the product or service delivered to the customer might easily be a system which requires S-III capability to create.

For example, a customer might require a software system to automate a large work process. This customer might contract with a company to accomplish the following work.

  • Needs analysis
  • Workflow documentation
  • Automation system design
  • Software selection and procurement
  • Software installation and configuration
  • Workflow integration with the software
  • Role re-design to include software operation around the work process
  • Training of personnel
  • Testing of workflow for throughput
  • Evaluation of automated workflow related to the initial needs analysis

This is all clearly S-III system work and might easily take 12-24 months to accomplish. Remember, the goal is NOT to install an automated system, but to install an automated system that exceeds throughput of the original work process. The goal is to get the automated system up to a full working capacity.

Indeed, the production work is S-III system work, for the role of a system architect, with no direct reports.

Assuming the system architect has the capability to be effective at this level of work, it is likely that she will create her own progress metrics (making sure production gets done). In addition, she may also document the system for creating the system. So, much of the supervisory and managerial work related to the project might be accomplished by this same system architect.

But, every person performs at a higher level with a manager, so what is the role of the system architect’s manager (at S-IV). The function of a manager is to bring value to the problem solving and decision making of the team member. The system architect can handle the routine decisions and problems, but might require help with the tough problems and decisions.

For example. The system architect might be able to automate this work process, but struggle with how this automated system might integrate with other systems in the customer’s company. It is one thing to automate manufacturing planning and procurement, stock and inventory of raw materials used in a manufacturing process, but how might that integrate with research and development? This is where the system architect’s manager might bring value.

Tomorrow, we will talk about the role of the system architect’s manager-once-removed.

My Senior Managers Are Too Busy

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

In your workshop, you talk about the Manager-Once-Removed, who, you say, has a major role in the hiring process. I have to tell you. My “managers-once-removed” are too busy to participate in the upfront part of recruiting. Why can’t we delegate some of the initial sorting, telephone screening and first round interviews. We usually get the manager-once-removed involved only when the hiring manager is down to the last three candidates.

What more important function is there, for the manager-once-removed, than to build the infrastructure of the team? I would ask, why is your manager-once-removed so busy? Is it because the MOR did such a lousy job of building the team in the first place.

Lets say we have an open role at S-II, supervisor position. The hiring manager is appropriately at S-III, and the manager-once-removed is the hiring manager’s manager, at S-IV. In the hierarchy, (remember, I’m a structure guy) it looks like this.

S-III – Hiring manager
S-II – Supervisor (Open role)

What pain is occurring?
For the hiring manager (S-III) – a production team is likely running without supervision, meaning the hiring manager has to fill the gap and work down a stratum level of work, at least part time. Simultaneously, the organization is looking to the hiring manager to initiate a recruiting search for a replacement.
For the manager-once-removed (S-IV) – one of the S-III managers (the hiring manager) is currently under stress, spread thin, covering for an open role, making sure production gets done while simultaneously recruiting for that open role.

When does the role need to be filled?
For the hiring manager – yesterday would be good.
For the manager-once-removed – when the right candidate is identified in the candidate pool.

What is the critical purpose for the recruiting effort?
For the hiring manager – to remove the stress in the production system, created by the open role.
For the manager-once-removed – to build a stronger team, finding a truly qualified candidate that creates bench-strength.

What is the hiring methodology?
For the hiring manager – whatever is fastest. Use a job posting for the role description. Hope the hiring team likes the first candidate. How fast can the candidate give notice on their current job? Better yet, are they currently unemployed and can they start tomorrow?
For the manager-once-removed – slow the process down. Make sure the role description is well written and understood, it’s the central document for the process. Create a hiring team with well-understood roles on the team. Use the hiring team to identify the critical role requirements. Use the hiring team to create a bank of interview questions, ten written questions for each Key Result Area. Bring value to the decision making process of the hiring manager.

Who is accountable for the quality (output) of the decision made by the hiring manager?
A manager is that person held accountable for the output of the team. The manager-once-removed is the hiring manager’s manager. It is the manager-once-removed that is accountable for the quality of the decision made by the hiring manager.

Do not leave your hiring manager to twist in the wind. The manager-once-removed is the quarterback of this process. What more important function is there, for the manager-once-removed, than to build the infrastructure of the team?