Tag Archives: manager once removed

Hiring Decision is Clouded by Urgency

“But, it’s my decision,” Janice tried to explain. “How can you hold my manager accountable for my decision?”

“Who is your coach?” I asked.

Janice stopped cold. Her eyes briefly closed, fluttered. “My manager is my coach,” she replied.

“Prior to your last hire, did you write a role description?” I prompted.

“Well, I used one from HR. It’s an old one, but that was all they had.”

“And, what was your hiring criteria?”

“Well, I was a bit desperate, so I really needed someone who could start immediately,” Janice replied.

“And your coach, what was his hiring criteria?”

“Funny, after it was all over, he said he never would have hired the person I picked. He said the candidate wasn’t strong enough. He said I should have held up a higher standard for the position. Not to be so quick to make a decision.”

“And that’s why I hold your manager accountable for the quality of your decision. He is your coach. He sets the context for your decision. He is the quarterback for this hire. He knows what is really required for success in the role. You are concerned about production. He is concerned about building a stronger team.”

What’s Your Point?
Hiring managers are almost always under the gun to make a quick hire. There is a missing person on the team and the hiring manager is covering the work. Decision making is clouded by urgency. The hiring manager’s manager (the MOR) has clearer perspective on what is really required for success in the role. It is critical for the MOR to step up and be an active coach.

Managerial Acccountability Up the Food Chain

“I understand, that, as a manager, I am accountable for the output of my team,” Janice was trying to make sense of who is accountable. “But my manager isn’t accountable for my output, is he? I thought it was only about our production teams.”

“As a manager, you are accountable for the output of your production team. You are accountable for their work output. Why shouldn’t your manager be accountable for your work output?” I asked.

“But, I don’t do production work, at least, not anymore,” she defended.

“Work is making decisions and solving problems. When your production team has a difficult decision to make or a difficult problem to solve, don’t you jump in and help them through?”

“Yes, because I am accountable for the team’s output. If I don’t help them make the right decision, I am on the hook for the consequence.”

“And you have told me that you are struggling, when it comes to hiring. You have a difficult decision to make. That’s work. What is the output of your decision making?” I prompted.

“It’s either going to be a good hire or a bad hire,” Janice relented.

“And why shouldn’t I hold your manager accountable for the quality of your decision?”

What’s Your Point?

Accountability is not just about production. Managerial accountability goes all they way up the food chain.

  • Supervisors (S-II) are accountable for the output of production.
  • Managers (S-III) are accountable for the output of supervisors (S-II).
  • Executive managers (S-IV) are accountable for the output of managers (S-III).
  • Business unit presidents (S-V) are accountable for the output of their executive managers (S-IV).

So, Easily Turned Away

“There must be a trick to hiring,” Janice announced. “My manager always seems to find good people.”

“You feel your manager is better at hiring than you are?” I wanted to know.

“Better track record. He only hires one or two people a year, and they seem to stick. They are really smart, know how to do the job from the first day, they are confident, in control. How does he find these people?” she grimaced. “I’ve tried, I know how hard it is.”

“Have you ever asked him?”

“Yes,” Janice explained. “He just grins, says I will catch on, and then leaves me to twist in the wind.”

“Oh, really?”

“Once, just once, I wish he would take the time to help me. He just says, your team, your responsibility. But, he sees my struggle. He sees the turnover on my team.”

“So, you are so easily turned away?” I challenged.

“What?” Janice leaned back.

“You know, as a manager, that you are accountable for the output of your team. The same holds true for your manager. He is accountable for your output.”

What’s Your Point
When we understand that it is the manager accountable for the output of the team, everything changes. Janice’s manager is accountable for the quality of Janice’s decision, yet Janice is so easily turned away. This is a two way street. Janice needs help (we all need help and coaching makes us better) and she should actively seek that coaching from her manager.

“I need help. Here is the decision I am struggling with, and here are my two alternatives.” Powerful words.

How HR Can Help Resolve a Conflict

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
I have a question about how to resolve conflicts between a manager and a team member. Is this a role that is appropriate for HR, or should the conflict be resolved by the MOR (Manager Once Removed)?

Response:
I am a big fan of the HR role. HR roles help bring discipline to all those functions that involve humans. And, many times, our problems are created by a lack of discipline.

  • Lack of discipline in the hiring process
  • Lack of discipline in context setting
  • Lack of discipline in the delegation process
  • Lack of discipline in the planning process
  • Lack of discipline in project reviews
  • Lack of discipline in effectiveness reviews

And, where HR can help in discipline, accountability still rests with the manager and the MOR.

You asked about a conflict between the manager and the team member. In all situations, I need more detail, but I assume most conflicts would be about work method or priority conflict. In some cases, there may be a conflict related to underperformance or misbehavior. In all cases, it is still the manager and the MOR who are accountable for resolving the conflict.

If the conflict is about work method or priority conflict, the team member is accountable for giving best advice. The manager is accountable to consider the advice and make an appropriate decision. If the two are still at loggerheads, the manager should seek advice and coaching from their manager (the MOR). Either manager can seek advice from the HR professional, but the manager and MOR are accountable for the decision and the consequence of that decision.

If the conflict is about underperformance or misbehavior, the discussion is different, but the accountability is the same. Elliott Jaques always traced underperformance or misbehavior to one of these four absolutes –

  • Capability
  • Skill (technical knowledge and practice)
  • Interest or passion for the work, value for the work
  • Required behaviors (contracted behaviors, habits or culture)

Elliott would also expect the manager to know which of these four absolutes contributed to the underperformance or misbehavior. The underlying cause might lead to more training, coaching or de-selection.

No matter the resolution, while HR can assist in the discipline of the process, the accountability remains with the manager and the MOR.

That Would Be Me

Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Registration and Orientation is now open. Register here. Vistage/TEC members get a $100 credit.
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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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Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Registration and Orientation open today, July 6. Register here. Vistage/TEC members get a $100 credit.

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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Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now. Vistage/TEC members get a $100 credit.

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?”
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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.
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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.”
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Mark your calendars. Hiring Talent Summer Camp is coming. Orientation starts July 6, pre-registration open now.