Bad Management Is No Easy Fix
Q: I have been with this organization for over 25 years in an executive position, but I am not sure how to handle a personnel issue we have in another department. The company has been successful for many years, until recently when some of the key leadership positions changed personnel. The hierarchy now makes no sense. For example, vice presidents report to managers instead of the other way around. And that is just one of the small problems.
The operations department is critical to the company's overall success. Four important employees there left in the last few months. All reported to the same manager, who in turn reported to the chief operating officer. The operations manager also just left, bringing the total to five employees who left due to stress from unrealistic workload demands. Another operations employee who is still there has not caught on to the job and runs to me with problems.
The manager accepted a lower-paying job just to be able to quickly leave the company due to the high level of stress with no change in sight. He claimed the COO (who has held the position for only two years) has no clue about the stress caused by the workload forced on the operations personnel. The COO is a rigid micromanager and not approachable; he will not offer additional help for the department or allow overtime so the department can catch up.
The new CEO is headquartered in another state and has no working knowledge of the operations department. His background was in IT. I have had no dealings with this CEO, but the situation in operations will continue its downward spiral under the COO unless something is done to correct it.
To compound the problem, the head of human resources holds exit interviews, but she is passive and fearful of the COO. I don't think she will address the personnel problem with him or the CEO because of her insecurity and fear of speaking out. The COO is not violent, just rigid and uncompromising. I hate to see the company go down because of executives in roles in which they do not belong. Should I get involved or let it go? I love my work and I'm not ready to retire.
A: The company has a CEO, a COO and a head of HR, all of whom are unqualified for their management roles. The operations department is now short five employees and has a remaining employee who already runs to you with work problems even though you are not over operations.
With more than 25 years invested in the company, your future should be your most important concern. Review your contracts and benefits to determine whether the company's future success or failure will affect your retirement package. Unqualified executives remaining in management positions could cause long-term damage to the company. Also, according to what you know about the HR head, she is not going to report the situation to the CEO or present honest exit information to the COO. You also sound like you don't expect him to change, regardless of the facts.
Overall, presenting the facts and using reason to correct the operations problems might not prove productive nor worth risking an awkward and perhaps insulting conversation with the COO. If you want to help save the company, consider discreetly helping the remaining operations personnel just to keep that department afloat. Also consider speaking to the HR head about the operations problems. She will clearly need help handling a transparent interview to replace the five employees who left.
Remember, the company will have trouble if she lies about why that department is short on personnel. Some companies will hire a psychologist to handle the interviewing process when trying to replace employees who will be working for an unreasonable boss. Of course, keeping this difficult COO in his position will continue to hurt the operations department. If the head of HR is not capable of resolving any part of the situation, it may be time to replace her, as well. Ask which is easier: correcting the company's personnel problems or planning for retirement.
Email career and life coach: Lindsey@LindseyNovak.com with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com, and for past columns, see https://www.creators.com/features/at-work-lindsey-novak.