There comes a time when you might be forced to conclude that the problem with a department isn’t all those lousy employees, but the person who manages them. If that’s the case, it may be time to terminate the manager.
Of course, some managers have to crack the whip to get the work done. But there is a huge difference between being demanding and difficult to work for and downright impossible.
Even if you think you need a particular manager’s specialized skills, she may be costing you more than she is worth in turnover, training and time spent dealing with complaints from subordinates.
Recent case: Shirley Brown, who is black, was fired from her managerial job with an engineering firm when it became clear her employees were rebelling against herstyle. She sued, alleging that the company retained other tough and difficult managers who happened to be white and male.
But the company showed the court that Brown’s management style was more abrasive and harmful than the others as evidenced by turnover and internal complaints. That was enough to get the case dismissed. (Brown v. Jacobs Engineering, No. 10-10078, 11th Cir., 2010)
Final note: Be sure to keep good records showing management problems. Some examples include comparative turnover rates, unexplained resignations, subordinate complaints to HR and the number of transfer requests. Exit interviews are also a good idea. They’re an early warning sign of brewing trouble.
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