My Managers Are Making My Blood Boil

Dear Ken Keller,

One of my responsibilities as the owner of a company that wants to expand is to find and bring in the right people who can help me grow it.

It’s a hard task to find people who actually want to work and sometimes it is even more difficult to get them to come here and meet with me. I guess people who are employed are often leery about leaving what they know to go to something they don’t know because it may not work out for them.

But what makes it worse is that once I get these people to visit and interview, my managers always are reluctant to say anything positive about a candidate. Some of the reasons or concerns might be legitimate, but my sense is that my current managers don’t want any change and fear new people coming in as their peers or even their boss.

What’s your take? – Richard O.

Dear Richard:

Change is hard for many people and your managers are wondering what you are doing.

Put yourself in the position of your managers. You bring in someone they have never met or heard about and you ask them to “interview him or her for a new position in our company.”

The first question isn’t going to be, “What do you know about our company?” Every one of your managers is going to ask, “What position are you talking to the owner about?”

No matter how the candidate answers, the manager is going to find some reservations because their job is threatened or one of their peers’ jobs is in danger.

This is what we call F.E.A.R. – False Evidence Appearing Real.

When you bring in new people to interview, your managers are wondering, “Will I be out of work? Will this person be my new boss? Does this mean I will no longer report directly to the owner? Is this the end of promotions, raises, bonuses?”

You did not say if you shared your plans for growing your company or if you explained what this means for your managers as individuals, a team or the company.

This is important to do before you bring anyone else in to meet your managers.

I want to caution you about having realistic plans for growth as well as a solid plan for executing your goals.

Far too many owners have nebulous, pie-in-the-sky goals for building an empire without having any idea of how to go about it.

Your goals and your plan have to be realistic. It’s not enough for you to believe in your plan; your managers and employees have to believe in it as much or more than you do. If you do not earn their backing, you will not succeed.

Also, having people who have been with other growing companies helps, but if some of your managers are happy with the status quo and the new managers are gung-ho for growth, you will have a civil war on your hands.

Jim Collins has written about first having the right people on the company bus, then making sure they are in the right seat on the bus.

You owe it to your existing team to fairly evaluate how they can fit into the future of your company. Some may have the skills and others may not. Some may possess the energy and the drive and some will not. Some want change and will do what it takes to make it happen and others are comfortable right where they are. Some are ready to grow and move into new roles and some will never be.

As hard as it might be, you need to do these assessments dispassionately because the future of your company is at stake. Good luck; the process is hard but worth the investment.