As I've gotten more and more years of work under my belt, you learn a lot of things. These relate to how to do your own job, but also in watching other people do their jobs. Everybody has their own style or way of doing things, and the repercussions of this can be far and wide. This holds even more true for those hired into management positions.
Here's a story of one management hire that started off well but only went downhill, finishing up as an absolute calamity.
A Tough Situation To Begin With
The manager, we'll call him Manny for the purposes of this story, was hired a little over a year ago to manage a group that was facing quite a few challenges. The group was growing quite a bit as the focus within IT was getting more and more substantial. The group did not have a great working relationship with many of the other groups, which was often a source of frustration. See, with IT, when you're working on big things, which often happen here, groups have to work together in order to have a successful outcome. This group was very hard to engage. Their members often didn't show up to meetings or would make changes out of sequence or make promises that they would do something and simply not do it at the scheduled time.
They really needed a good manager. They needed a leader. And Manny was brought in to be that guy.
He came in and went to team meetings with all of the other groups, including our group of project managers. I was never really sold on him from the very beginning, as his background just didn't seem to have the heavy lifting required in both the technical space and also the management area. He seemed to come more in the area where things were designed, but here he was trying to lead a group more focused on the actual implementation. Success in one area, at least within IT, does not often translate.
Still, he promised big changes and improvements, and people gave him the benefit of the doubt, as they figured it couldn't get any worse, right?
4 Mistakes This Manager Made That Got Him Fired
So, where did it all go wrong. Well, as you can tell by the title of the post, Manny ended up losing his job, but let's back up and see what he did to get him there.
He added steps and then refused to explain them.
Dring the first meeting with the other groups, he said he would make changes. And he did. Pretty soon after we started getting memos about steps that needed to be added to the process for planning and implementing changes involving his group. All it did was add steps, and people were increasingly frustrated. Yet, when asked about why the changes were being added or what the benefits were, he would include nothing of the sort in the documentation and would sidestep any direct questions. Basically, he'd just note, “Well, that's how we're doing things now.”
He did not remove frustration, he just shifted it.
Remember how I said that before Manny came on board, the team members would often skip meetings? He promised to put a stop to that. And fair to his word, he did. However, some of the steps that he added were that he needed to review all changes. So, what started happening is that the team members would show up to meetings, engage in the planning process, work together on a plan, and have it signed and ready to go.
This was all great except that Manny would then (and only then) look at it and stall the process. He wouldn't go to meetings himself, but would essentially undo the work that his team members did. In the end, the frustration was still the same, it just changed focus.
He went against overall process flows.
Even though there are many groups within the organization that all follow different processes, there are many standard processes that are expected or even dictated. For example, if a change is being done and something comes up that was for some reason unexpected, there is a process to evaluate the impact, and decide whether or not to move forward. Despite the planning, this happens. Most times, the teams huddle and work through it and are able to continue with the change.
Occasionally, things can't progress and it gets called off, but that's usually pretty rare. However, when Manny came in, any time that anything occurred during a change that deviated from the planning elements, he would automatically call the whole thing off. Right then and there. It didn't matter how major or minor the activity was. It didn't matter how many other teams had resources that had people participating (often after-hours). The change would simply be called off and planning had to start over.
He abused his team.
The final straw was when it became known that he was becoming abusive to his team. He would call them into his office and review work to be done. He would then threaten the team member with getting fired, often swearing at them in the process. The team members started comparing notes and documenting this. They were demoralized and started questioning their abilities.
In the end, especially after the group presented their documentation to senior leadership, it became clear that he was an awful fit. He took a bad situation and made it worse, instead of making it better. Manny inherited a team that had weaknesses, and made it worse. He attacked not only weaknesses, but also what they were good at! In the end, Manny's leadership style actually set the team back, something that few would have thought was even possible.
Bad Manager: The Wrong Person For The Job.
Clearly, Manny was overmatched. Aa time went on, some of the things he started doing happened when he saw that things were getting worse. There are no excuses for his actions. That said, I know there are certain times when things start going wrong, and you're so close to the situation that you can't see a way out, and you just start lashing out at anything and anybody. I think it was a slow burn for Manny. It goes to show that hiring managers and leaders is something that has to be done very carefully. There are other people's jobs on the line, and he put them at risk with his poor management style.
Hopefully, the damage can be unwound and someone new can be brought in that can be a true leader with true vision and understanding. The team definitely deserves that.
Readers, have you ever seen a manager somehow manage to do everything wrong? Do you think that it's hiring a bad person, or maybe just a bad fit for the job?