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.”
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One thought on “Every Manager’s Dilemma

  1. Linda murphy

    Tom; I think that this describes well why some people fail as managers. They fail to see the bigger picture and still want to play in the weeds.


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