Chocolate Mess, Related to a VP

From the Ask Tom mailbag:


I was hired into the company six months ago, in a managerial role. One of my team members, a supervisor, was promoted beyond his capability. It’s a mess, but a mess that I inherited. This guy is not a bad person, he means well, just over his head. Oh, did I mention, he’s related to one of the Vice-Presidents?


You are doing no one favors by leaving this person in a role where they consistently underperform, no matter who they are related to. This person may be doing their best, but pace and quality suffers.

The fix is managerial work for you. Your options range from modifying parts of the role to a complete reassignment to a different role. If you intend to modify the role, you will need to break it down into Key Result Areas and determine which parts of the role are done well, reassign the rest to someone else. In your assessment, take a look at the history of this person, what were their previous positions and how well did they do? Everyone has competence, somewhere, you just have to find it.

The political part, being related to a current VP, will require some finesse, but will likely be easier than you think. If you truly have a chocolate mess on your hands, everyone already knows it, they just don’t talk about. And yes, the VP knows it, too. You will be doing the VP a favor if you can determine a more suitable position.

2 thoughts on “Chocolate Mess, Related to a VP

  1. David Bueford

    Why don’t you the ask VP for advice? That way the VP has a vested interest in your and his relatives success. If you want to move forward in your organization you will need to build trust through and alliances. There should be a college course about finesse and politics in business.

  2. Tom Foster

    Indeed, there will be a necessary conversation with the VP, but it is this manager who is accountable for the output of the team member. There is managerial groundwork that has to be completed first, to dissect the Key Result Areas in the “chocolate mess” role and assess effectiveness in each. This exercise will organize the role and provide direction for the next managerial decisions. At some point the VP will be drawn into the conversation for advice and counsel.


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