I'm always amazed when I see otherwise good managers falter when they have to deal with a personnel issue.
I'm talking about all kinds of individuals. Those who are strong technically, smart, even outgoing are as likely to waiver as are others who don't have the same knowledge or brainpower or extraverted attitude.
Why is it that managers who rarely fail to meet their other deadlines, don't do as well with personnel issues?
Here are 6 key reasons:
1. Because they can. It's easy to avoid dealing with people - especially when you're in a more senior position. A simple, "Sorry I can't meet with you, this project's got to be done by such and such date and it can't be delayed," gets you off the hook. After all, very few people will argue that they are more important than THE PROJECT.
2. Because they don't know how easy it is. For a lot of people, it seems easier to simply avoid dealing with an issue that's personell related. Of course it's not. Avoidance, over time, makes a manager feel bad. Often those who avoid problems frequently will report feeling like they are weak, indecisive, unempowered, or even a fraud. But when they finally have to deal with the issue they often report that they feel much better. Even if it was a tough meeting.
3. Because their boss does it to them. They say things like, "Heck, it's what everyone around here does. So why should I get involved in this hassle; no one else cares anyway." I hear this in a lot of very poorly-performing organizations. No surprise if you think about it - when people are disregarded or problems avoided for a long time; the message to all is clear - "we managers really don't care."
4. Because they think their leaders are full of it. I mean, how many company leaders DON'T say stuff like, "our people are our most important asset" today? It's like a BS mantra. But then they're not accessible to the employees or other managers. When I hear this from a C-Level person I ask if I can see their appointment schedule. The ones who truly care have a lot of meetings with employees, union reps, or other lower level managers. Most don't. And the rest of the company just learns to live with the boss who says stuff but doesn't act on it.
5. Because they haven't been trained. With good training, even a rep who has to deal with customers' complaints all day can keep his or her perspective. They are taught what to expect with the interaction between them and unhappy customers, and how to respond without taking it personally. Understanding how to deal with personnel issues is a key part of being a good manager; yet many companies don' t have a training program in place. So we expect the manager to deal with it like a pro. The manager knows (s)he's not. And avoids.
6. Because they don't care. Face it - some managers really don't have any concern about the well being of the company or their fellow co-workers. They are there for the paycheck and to get out and spend it. If you see these people, recognize that they are not simply screwing the 'system'. Their lack of care may cause a waterfall affect which makes your company the next one to go out of business, beaten by another filled with managers and employees who really want to deliver a good product or service.
In today's world, a failure to recognize the importance of personnel issues, and then deal with them isn't just bad - it can be fatal.
John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion dollar organizations and launching start-ups in both the U.S. and Canada. The author of two published books, he is frequently seen providing advice on TV, in magazines, and newspapers.