Tag Archives: manager once removed

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?

You Designed the System

“I have so many things going on, seven projects in the air, but the worst part is, people just seem to interrupt me, all the time,” Rosalee explained. “They don’t realize how hard it is to get anything done, when every ten minutes, I have to drop everything to answer a question.”

“Who is they?” I asked.

“Well, it’s my own team members, and it’s my manager, and my manager’s manager.”

“Sounds like you are pretty important around here,” I observed.

“I do have a lot of experience, and my projects are very complicated. Lots of moving parts and shifting deadlines,” she replied.

“So, what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know. I tried shutting my door, so they text me. I tried hiding in another office, they found me. I tried coming in to work early and staying late, but that turned into 14 hour days,” Rosalee shook her head.

“Why do you think everyone depends on you, so much?” I prompted.

“They are smart people, but sometimes I think they are lazy. They don’t have to make a decision using their own judgement when they can just ask me.”

“And if you refuse to help?”

“I can’t do that. Decisions wouldn’t get made and production would slow down,” she protested.

“So, the system that interrupts you, is a system that you designed?”

How Do You Know?

“You are the manager, so, why don’t you know if there is anyone on the line that has the potential to step up to a supervisory role?” I repeated.

“Well, I let the supervisor handle that.  He knows his team,” Denny explained.

“But, if the supervisor disappears, and you have to hire a new supervisor, how are you going to make that decision?”

“What do you mean, if the supervisor disappears?” Denny pushed back.

“Nothing is forever,” I replied.  “All managerial relationships are terminal.  The best person on your supervisor team is likely to get promoted.  One of them might quit and go work for a competitor.  One of them might go fly-fishing in Montana and call in well.”

“Okay, okay.  If one of my supervisors quits, I am the hiring manager.  What’s your point?” Denny challenged.

“If you don’t have a relationship with any of the production team, how will you know if any of them could step up and be effective in the role of supervisor?”

Identifying Supervisory Capability

“When was the last time you walked the floor and talked to the line crew,” I asked.

Denny paused.  He knew it was a loaded question.  “I walk the floor a couple of times a day.  But, I depend on my supervisors to talk to the line crew.  As the Plant Manager, I have a lot of important things that keep me in my office.”

“So, what do your supervisors tell you about the line crew?”

“Mostly, they just complain about this one coming in late, or somebody out sick.  The usual stuff.”

“So, you never actually talk to anyone on the line crew?” I pressed.

“No, if there is a problem, I let my supervisors handle it.  I don’t want to interrupt the chain of command,” Denny explained.

“What happens if one of your supervisor’s quits?”

Denny peered over the top of his glasses.  “I guess I would have to hire another supervisor.”

“And, where would you go first, inside or outside?”

“I don’t know that there is anyone on the line that could step up and be supervisor.  I would just put an ad in the paper, do some interviews and pick somebody.”

“Why don’t you know if there is anyone on the line with supervisory capability?”

It’s Not Micro-Management

“As the manager-once-removed, what else am I responsible for in this hiring process?” Byron asked.

“Since this hire is two Strata below, and as the manager of the hiring manager, you are the coach,” I replied.

“Coach?” Byron questioned.

“Yes, coach. How good is Ron at hiring?”

“Well, he doesn’t have that much experience with it, but he has hired people before. I always hope he does a good job, but, I don’t want to micro-manage him.”

“It is not micro-management to sit down with Ron and hammer out the role description. I mean a real role description, one that you can interview from. It’s not micro-management to sit down with Ron and talk about creating a list of 50-60 critical questions that need to be asked during the interview. You are the coach. This is your process to drive. Delegation is not abdication.”

Who Creates the Talent Pool?

“In the midst of everything I have to do, with all of my management issues and motivation issues, you expect me to read resumes,” Byron was putting his foot down. “I am a Vice-President in this company. I have other people that read resumes for me.”

I did not respond, just raised an eyebrow. I could see the exasperation on Byron’s face.

“So, just exactly what do I do?” asked Byron. “I mean, I know what to do when I need to hire a manager on my team, but to hire a supervisor on one of my manager’s teams?”

“You won’t make the final selection, but I do hold you accountable for driving this process. Logistically, here is what it looks like. Your division has an opening two strata below you. As the manager-once-removed, it is your accountability to create the talent pool from which the hiring manager will select. Creating the talent pool means that you drive this process. Every morning, when you are fresh, I expect you to come in and spend a half hour to forty five minutes reviewing resumes. That’s every day, whether you have an opening in your division, or not. I expect that each day, you will find two or three resumes that you will find interesting. I expect you to make two or three screening phone calls every day. Once or twice a week, I expect you will actually run across a candidate. If you find only one per week, that is fifty people per year that you might bring in to interview for a supervisor level position.”

“But we have never had fifty people that qualified,” Byron continued to push back.

“Is that the truth, or is that something you believe to be true?”
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Looking to Push Back

I could see Byron looking for a lame excuse to push back from the idea that, as the manager-once-removed, his job is to create the talent pool from which the hiring manager makes the selection.

“Let me get this straight,” he started. “The open position is for a high level supervisor, Stratum II role, time-span – nine months. Ron is the hiring manager, one stratum above. I am the manager-once-removed, two strata above the open position. And I am supposed to create the talent pool that Ron picks from?”

“You have it. That is your role,” I replied.

Byron was shaking his head. “But, I don’t have time for all this. I have some very important projects that I have to work on. This is just a supervisor position.”

It was my turn to nod. “Yes, it is a supervisor position. And if Ron makes the wrong hire, how much of your time will you have to spend coaching Ron on how to deal with this bad hire? You can spend the time now to help make a proper hire, or you can spend the time later dealing with the mistake.

“Which course of action contributes to productivity?” I continued. “Which course of action builds a better infrastructure? What more important project do you have to work on, than building this infrastructure in your department?”

Who Builds the Talent Pool?

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Byron was a bit unsettled. “Do you mean that I should read those resumes? I’m not the hiring manager,” he stated flatly.

“No, and we already established that the level of work of the hiring manager is too close to the level of work of the new position. The hiring manager is threatened by this new hire and does not have enough perspective to see the correct talent pool. That is why this step in the process is up to you.”

“But, I am not the hiring manager,” he continued to protest.

“No, you are the manager-once-removed. Are you threatened by this hire?” I asked.

“Well, no, this position is two levels of work down from me.”

“Exactly, and do you have better perspective on what is really required for success in this position?”

Byron nodded. “But reading resumes. I don’t have time to read resumes and this is not my hire.”

“I am not asking you to make the hire. That is still Ron’s job. Your role in the hiring process, as the manager-once-removed, is to create the talent pool. You create the talent pool of qualified candidates. Ron makes the hire from the pool.”
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