ManageBasics.com

How's It Going?

Greg was doing a lot of wandering these days. He would walk up and down the corridors, stopping by different offices just to check in. He had fewer problems and he didn't feel the need to tightly monitor Simon or the executive team as he had in the past, so he just wandered.

For the first time, he felt like he had a business. It was finally dawning on him that for all these years he had just had a well-paying job, in the sense that, if he had gone on vacation for a month, the company would have been in a shambles when he returned. But now, if he went away for a month, he was confident that the company would not just survive, but would thrive in his absence.

And that was just what he and his wife, Mary, had decided to do. They were planning a one-month trip to Australia next summer. Mary had always wanted to travel, but Greg had always said that he hated traveling. The truth was, he hated to leave the company unsupervised, but now he didn't feel that it needed watching over.

During one of his mid-afternoon walkabouts, Greg happened upon Simon and Michelle, just coming to the end of a meeting.

“How's it going?” he asked.

“Most rewarding work of my life,” Simon said.

“We are really helping people,” Michelle added. “When I tell my friends what I am doing here, they can't believe it.”

“It's strange, isn't it?” Greg commented. “Our people are ordinary people, from different backgrounds, no doubt, and they have their struggles. But people need someone to help them articulate their dreams, someone to speak with openly about their dreams. It's simple stuff, but it really is powerful. I lie awake at night sometimes, thinking about my employees' dreams, and I get so excited for what's happening in their lives.”

“I wish you had come to me with this idea ten years ago,” Michelle said.

Greg laughed and continued, “Let me tell you: I wish Simon had come up with this Dream Manager Initiative ten years ago, too. I think of all the thousands of people who have passed through this place. I always thought they were letting me down. As it turns out, we were letting each other down, but I tend to think it was more my fault than theirs.”

“Don't be too hard on yourself, Greg, we've come a long way in a couple of short years.”

“You're right, Simon. A lot has changed around this place in two years and I want to keep that going. Are there any problems that you see that we need to address?” Greg asked.

“Actually, that was why Michelle and I were sitting down just now. Michelle feels that there are a couple of people on our team who don't belong here at Admiral.”

“What do you mean?” Greg asked, turning to Michelle.

“Well, if we are really going to transform our entire workforce, there are some people who are going to have to change or leave. Truth be told, if they haven't changed by now, they aren't likely to. I have three people in mind and they are all gatekeepers. At the lower levels, the employees will root out the lazy ones themselves now, but at the higher levels, it's not that easy.”

“Who do you have in mind, and why?” Greg asked, his interest piqued.

“Charlie, Joe, and Scott,” Michelle replied.

“But they're all managers!” Greg said in surprise.

“I know, but we have at least twelve people who could replace them and do a better job,” Michelle explained.

“But those guys have been here for years.”

“I know that, too, and that's probably why they got promoted, but they aren't the best people for the job. Think about it — what would happen to a football team if you gave promotions based on the years you had put in? Under that guise, if you sat on the bench for enough seasons, you would get promoted to the starting lineup. Football coaches put their best team on the field and we need to do the same.”

“But you just can't fire them, can you?” Greg inquired.

“That's true, but Charlie and Joe have had letters from Human Resources in the past twelve months, citing them for underperformance, failure to meet goals and objectives, and noncompliance with company policy. And Scott, in my opinion, is a bully. He blames others for problems he creates and essentially lacks what it takes to be a leader,” Michelle explained.

“What do you think?” Greg asked Simon.

“I think Michelle is right, and if we don't hold them accountable or weed them out, we are sending a bad message to our good people. Furthermore, it will create three career opportunities for three of our best people, and that will bring some dreams to life.”

“Okay, but we have to do it in the right way,” Greg urged.

“Absolutely.” Michelle resumed. “I say we send them a final written warning, explaining that any further problems in these areas will lead to termination. If they rise to the occasion, we've solved our problem. If they don't, we solve our problem, but we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to poor performance and mediocre leadership.”

“Good,” agreed Greg. “Let's put the plan in play.”

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