Management Middle Ground: The Mythical Unicorn of Business

by Michael Haberman on September 26, 2008 · 0 comments


I have seen, over my consulting career, a lot of managers, owners and supervisors. I have watched their decision making and I have watched them steer their “ships of commerce” both large and small. Many have had to make tough decisions and most make decisive, yet measured business decisions. EXCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO PEOPLE.

When it comes to people you get two camps. One camp makes quick decisions, regardless of the situation.
  • Hire immediately and on “gut.”
  • Promote or give a raise at the drop of a hat.
  • Fire on the spot.

The second camp takes FOREVER to make a decision.

  • Can’t decide to hire, because they are not sure what or whom they are looking for.
  • Don’t ever discipline or they issue warning after warning with no consequences. Don’t want to upset someone, don’t want to face the employee, afraid of them, etc. You pick the reason.
  • Won’t EVER fire anyone despite that the person drags down morale, lowers productivity, drives off the good employees.

Both camps of managers are bad for the company. The “hair trigger” types make decisions that result in turnover, incompetent management and run the risk of discrimination lawsuits. The “drag-on forever” types don’t make decisions and this results in lower quality candidates, poor performing employees, lowered morale, turnover, and the threat of lawsuits. Both types result in dragging down the reputation of the company.

Why is there no middle ground? Probably lack of training. Bigger companies may train managers, but most small and middle size companies don’t. Having a well trained HR person may help this situation, but only if they have credibility within their organizations, and many HR folks in small companies don’t.

So what do we do? Well we can point out the financial consequences of their behavior. That means HR has to be on the ball. You have to be able to put the need for a change of behavior in financial terms. Hopefully that will catch their attention.

Anyone have another suggestion. Let us know. Leave a comment on this blog page and educate us in what we might be able to do. Your HR brethren will appreciate it.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Wally Bock September 29, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Nice post, Michael. Certainly a bit of training would help, but you still need more. A process for hiring and one for firing would help. Evaluation mangers on their people management would help. A peer support group would help, too.

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