Many times in my career, I have been asked for some advice on certain situations that other managers have been encountering. When that happens, the easiest thing to do is give your opinion on the situation and hopefully the person will take your advice. I like to look at this as an opportunity. Let’s say a learning opportunity. Situations have more than one way to handle the outcome. Is the way I did it best? Don’t know, but I can say I handled it. What would be better is having me act as a facilitator and have the person walk through solving the problem. Looking for options, looking at the risks for each option and then making a decision to move forward.
Situation: Team leader, Bob, calls me to get my opinion on the following scenario that he is facing. Bob is in a panic. He has a member of his team, Mary, that is causing a real disruption in the workplace with her coworkers. Bob is the new manager to the team (team consists of 20 folks), as the last manager was fired. He thinks he knows why now. Shortly after taking his team, he noticed that many of the other female co-workers were not getting along with Mary, the team lead. She has to set up the team with their work assignments and insure that the team are meeting their goals. She acts on behalf of Bob on lots of items. Bob first thought that maybe Mary was being a bit too difficult to work with due to her tune and attitude toward the co-workers. He did some observing of the situation. Coached Mary on how she could go about he duties better. Nothing changed. In fact, it got worse. He talked to many of the team and found out that Mary was having relationships with the past manager. Hence, the manager getting fired. He was wondering what do I do now? Tough one…
What should Bob do?
Bob’s first reaction – Mary should have been fired as well… Working with HR on this item will be difficult in the sense that if HR felt that Mary should have been fired, she more than likely would have been fired at the same time as the past manager. I asked Bob, “how is she at getting her work done? Is she a good employee?” Bob feels that Mary has potential – just a bad situation. Bob senses that this option is probably not going to fly and starts to think about another option.
Replace Mary as team lead and keep her on his team. Bob really likes the knowledge and energy that Mary brings to his team and feels that maybe if he put her back on the line that would help. Sounds like a potential solution that has merit. So, I ask Bob some more questions. “Mary has a good relationship with how many on your team?” Bob thinks on that one and says about half. I ask another question – “Where does Mary have conflict?” Bob thinks and believes that all of the women on the shift have a problem with Mary. Why? Because of the relationship with the past manager. Bob understands that in order for the team to really work together – this option not really going to change much. Again, he has to keep at it.
I ask Bob a couple more questions to help him, “is Mary going to add value to the company? Is she worth spending some additional cycles?” He says – yes. He sees much of him in her, before he became a manager. He quickly says the only way for my team to more on, is to have Mary move on. He believes that his shift will definitely improve! He believes that Mary in a different situation will do well. So, he quickly says thank-you and goes off and works on finding Mary another position in the organization. Since this was a real (names changed) situation. Mary did well.. The team did well.. Bob did well..
Teachable moments happen everyday. How you use them, is up to you.