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Sunday, August 2, 2009

when an employee isn't taking your hint

A reader writes:

I am a sales manager and have a team of 9 Territory Managers. I have one young man on my team without a whole lot of life or professional experience. His father did some consulting for our corporate office and is well known in our company and throughout our industry.

My TM has a habit of bragging about the account he is "about" to get and getting bigwigs involved in little projects. I know they do not have time for this and wish I could get him to understand that this is not a wise thing to do. If anything, he should be waiting until he NAILS the account to communicate with these people - but I feel strongly that he should let his actions speak for themselves. I am really good at bragging about my team and their accomplishments and would do that for him.

Any advice on getting this guy to chill out a bit? I have tried gentle coaching, but he does not get the long-term big picture!

You manage this guy? When gentle coaching doesn't work, you escalate it to something more direct.

You need to tell him directly that there's a chain of command and he needs to follow it. That means not going over your head to involve higher-ups; that's something you will do when the time is appropriate. Then you enforce it.

You're his manager. Don't hint. Tell him the behavior you expect and hold him accountable to it.


DrJohnDrozdal said...

I agree completely with A manager's job is to hold direct reports accountable for results and the actions expected to get those results.

Reading "between the lines", the fact that the TM's father is a well-known consultant in the industry may have something to do with the manager's reticence to be more direct. My question for the manager would be, "Are you afraid of repercussions if you really hold this employee accountable because the TM's father is well-connected within your company?" Just get over it. Tell him what is expected and hold him to it!

A Girl Named Me said...

I agree with the "reading between the lines" assessment above. I'm guessing there is some kind of political thing going on here.

If this employee is an untouchable, the manager will have to take another tact. Perhaps explaining to him that when he announces a sale too soon and then doesn't get it, he could be losing face and making the manager look bad in the process.

If the employee isn't an untouchable, the manager definitely needs to have a conversation with him about following the chain of command in all circumstances.