Tag Archives: manager once removed

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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Hiring Talent, the print version, will be available from Amazon within the week, so we have a new cover. This link is for the Kindle version, available now.
Hiring Talent

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?

Orientation for our next Hiring Talent online program starts next Monday. For more information or pre-registration, follow this link Hiring Talent – 2013.
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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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Just released on Kindle. The only book on hiring that blends the research on levels of work with the discipline of behavioral interviewing. The research on levels of work, pioneered by the late Elliott Jaques, is powerful science. The discipline of behavioral interviewing is the most effective method for its application. This is the only book that puts these two ideas together in a practical framework for managers faced with the hiring decision.
Hiring Talent

Who Drives This Decision?

Orientation for our next Hiring Talent online program starts next Monday. For more information or pre-registration, follow this link Hiring Talent – 2013.
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Ron settled in a chair across from Byron, his manager. We exchanged appropriate pleasantries and set the context for a conversation about the candidate pool for a new position. Byron finally drilled in.

“Ron, you know I don’t think these three candidates are qualified for the position. But you said these were the only ones who fit our budget.”

“Yep, I know things are tight around here, and figured I could save the company some money, bring in one of these people. I could show them the ropes, take them in under my wing and everything would be fine.”

“Were there other candidates that were too expensive for us?” I asked.

“Sure, we had seven other resumes, but they were no bargain. We would have to pay full boat for any of them.”

I thanked Ron for his time and he left Byron and I to debrief.

“Byron, I don’t know, but my guess is that there are seven resumes of candidates that we need to look at. So, tell me, why do you think Ron is having difficulty with this hire, looking at the wrong talent pool of people?”

Byron was troubled, but the fog was lifting. “I think Ron was threatened by those resumes that he described as too expensive. You are right. Some of the salary requirements are close to what Ron is making. And I don’t think Ron has enough perspective to truly understand what will be required in this supervisor position.”

“Byron, let me recap. This whole process started at the bottom with Irene, the receptionist, who first sorted the resumes, through another supervisor, who screened the resumes and finally to Ron, the hiring manager. None are making good decisions in this selection process.

“So, who should be driving this?” I continued, “Who is left? Who understands what is truly required and is not threatened by this hire?”

“Do you mean, me?” Byron asked.

I nodded affirmative. “You are Ron’s manager, the manager-once-removed for this role.”
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Just released on Kindle. The only book on hiring that blends the research on levels of work with the discipline of behavioral interviewing. The research on levels of work, pioneered by the late Elliott Jaques, is powerful science. The discipline of behavioral interviewing is the most effective method for its application. This is the only book that puts these two ideas together in a practical framework for managers faced with the hiring decision.
Hiring Talent

MoRs and Succession

Yesterday, I posted a casual conversation about something I have observed as a fatal flaw in most organizations, the flaw is failing to think forward about succession. The biggest constraint to most companies is the lack of managerial talent. We get so tied up in getting production out the door, we forget about sustaining that momentum beyond the month, the quarter, the year.

In the posted conversation, I did not specifically describe where this accountability lies, nor its mechanics. In short order, I received an email from a colleague, clarifying the situation.

“It is NOT the accountability of a manager ‘to find and build a person as your replacement’ – that is the accountability of a manager’s manager, the Manager-once-Removed (MoR). Immediate managers are to be held accountable to coach subordinate employees ‘in role.’ MoRs are to be held accountable to ‘mentor’ subordinates-once-removed (SoR) related to career planning and potential advancement. MoRs should be held accountable to

  • learn if SoRs seek advancement, and
  • judge their future potential capability to determine if one could, in fact, have the requisite capability to work at a higher level.

And the manager of MoRs should hold MoRs accountable to do this work.
Here is a diagram of those relationships.
MOR-Mentor
My thanks to Kevin Earnest for paying attention and clarifying.

The Numbers Are In

“The numbers are in,” Arnie exclaimed. “We made budget. Took a lot of hard work, but in the end, we got the result we wanted.”

“I’m impressed,” I replied. “And how many body bags in the wake?”

Arnie looked puzzled, then he understood. He had hoped I wouldn’t notice, or at least, wouldn’t bring it up. “Well, there are those on the team, I mean, that were on the team, that just weren’t committed. Sometimes, you have to weed the garden.”

“So, you will accept some casualties along the way?” I prodded.

“In every battle, there are casualties,” Arnie suggested.

“Yes, and this isn’t a battle. This is a company, with work to do, under client pressure, with regulatory constraints and margin requirements. Why all the body bags?”

Dysfunctional Undermining Behavior

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
Does the Manager-Once-Removed (MOR) have the tendency to undermine the Manager to show that they cannot do their job well?

Response:
Sounds like a simple question, but it is actually complicated. Let’s start by laying out this structure visually.

Manager-Once-Removed (MOR)
__________________________

Manager
__________________________

Team Member

Your question is about undermining. This could be undermining authority, undermining performance, no matter, it is dysfunctional coping behavior. So what could be going on with the MOR? The undermining behavior is not the problem (I mean, it’s a problem, but not THE problem). Simply stopping the undermining behavior will not solve the underlying difficulty.

When I see this kind of dysfunctional behavior, which could present as undermining, micro-managing or just being mean, I always look for structural problems. Most would think we have a personality conflict or that we need a communication seminar, but both are smokescreens for a misalignment in organizational structure.

Most likely we have promoted the MOR to a role for which they are unprepared. I look for one of four underlying causes of the underperformance -

  • The MOR lacks the necessary capability
  • The MOR lacks the necessary skill
  • The MOR does not value the work of an MOR
  • We failed to contract for the necessary behavior of an MOR

So, who do I hold accountable for the underperformance of the MOR? It is the MOR’s manager (yes, the MOR has a manager, too) that I hold accountable. It was likely a faulty selection decision to promote this person to the MOR role with insufficient due diligence or testing.