When Your Team Doesn't Like the Manager You Hired

accountability alignment business growth ceo coaching communication conflict development employee turnover evaluation expectations feedback firing founder framework hiring leadership leadership challenge management management training managerial skills model performance small business solvable problem stress team members training values Mar 11, 2024


In this episode, Kris Plachy dives into the complex dynamic of promoting employees into management positions and the resulting challenges. Kris unpacks common issues faced by businesses as they transition from small teams to larger management structures. She candidly explores the struggles of transitioning from being an individual contributor to a manager, and details how new managers can unknowingly cause discomfort among their former peers.

Kris emphasizes the importance of investing in management training and the significance of developing leadership skills. With real-life examples, she highlights the impact of mismanaged leadership on employee retention and the overall health of the organization. Kris also offers a thought-provoking perspective on the need for clear communication and leadership frameworks to navigate these transitions effectively.

The episode provides an insightful look at the complexities of leadership transitions and emphasizes the need for intentional development and support for managers within the organization. Kris's direct and relatable approach offers a refreshing take on the nuances of leadership development and the impact of effective management on a company's success.

“You can't assume that if they've worked for you for 12 years, they know how to be like you. And we don't want them to be like you. But we want to be aligned with you.”

Key Takeaways From This Episode

  1. Challenges of Managing People in a Growing Company: Founder transitioning to a leadership position

  2. Importance of Leadership Training: The impact of proper management on business performance and culture

  3. Managerial Communication and Expectations: Establishing clear communication and expectations from managers

  4. Analyzing Your Manager's Communication Style and misconceptions about authoritative approach and respect in management

  5. Investigating Complaints About Managers: Assessing the alignment of managers with the founder's expectations

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All right. All right. All right. All right. I am not Matthew McConaughey. I know you might be disappointed, but this is Kris Plachy. Welcome to Leadership is Feminine. I, full disclosure, have been sick this week. So I'm a little sick-y sounding, not too bad. I think I can get through it. And I also think I'm a little spicy and weird. I haven't felt so good.

And I want to talk to you about kind of a, I don't know, let's call it a spicy topic. I don't know that it's spicy, but it's a big deal and it can be a really big problem. And that is this. You have a company and you hire people in your company and then your company gets bigger. And you have to hire people who manage people in your company. And then the people who used to work for you now work for someone else. They don't work for you directly. They work for the person that you made into a manager or a director, et cetera.

And you start to get rumblings, complaints, issues. This person that is in the management job is difficult to work for, unapproachable. Isn't this too direct. Is still too buddy, buddy with the peers that they used to work with. So, like, maybe the manager was part of a clique before, part of a little friend group on the team. And now they're in management role. They kind of haven't learned or figured out that they can't be part of that friend group anymore.

People feel ostracized, they feel unheard, they feel mistreated, they feel ignored, they feel ultimately vulnerable and they feel scared because when they worked for you, they felt safe and now they work for this person and they don't.

So what do we do? So there's a reason why this happens and it's not anybody's fault. So, first of all, the point of this podcast is to draw attention to something that I know is real and I coach people on it regularly. And as you know, I rip my podcast headlines straight from the notes of my coaching calls.

And I also can speak from experience. I can speak from experience of being on both sides of that problem. I remember having bosses and then getting a new one who was a peer or maybe was directly above me and then they became my boss boss and remember not liking them as much as my boss.

I remember becoming a boss. Many times amongst my peers, quite common. People would quit. In fact, it got to be that I just sort of knew people would quit when I got promoted because there's a reason why, and it's not always bad.

So we have to, we have to remember this, this, that I'm not positing this as a crisis. I'm positing this to you as a real thing that happens. And then we have to decide what to do and what we want to make it mean.

Why do people get promoted and then other people don't want to work for them? And why is that now an issue when they loved working for you? I mean, theoretically, it's the same company, it's the same team, it's the same environment. What's happening, right?

There is a truth in managing people that I know you've probably heard, but maybe right now you need to be reminded. And that is that people quit and work for people, not companies. So the relationship that people have with their boss is everything. Because the relationship that people have with their boss is everything.

Because the boss has what we call positional authority. And that means that they have the ability to fire you. If I work for someone else, my livelihood, there's a direct effect, a direct relationship between my livelihood and that person in the relationship I have with them. We can't deny that. It's a truth. Okay. And so it's not bad or good. It's just true.

And then, you know, why I do what I do is because I, as a young woman, I experienced and watched horrendous examples of leadership that then ultimately led to people having so much misery at work, because when I went to work and I started being a professional worker person, I was young. Right. I was 23 years old. I lived at home with my mom and paid her $500 rent. That's what I did. I didn't have a livelihood that I had to manage. I didn't have children. I didn't have a home. I didn't have a mortgage. I didn't have daycare to pay for. I didn't have food to put on the table. But the people I did work with did.

So yeah, people can quit jobs. But that's a big ask, right? Like, "I got to find another one." And so most people will stick it out rather than go through the discomfort of change. And then even though they're horribly uncomfortable, if they work for someone that they can't find common ground with, that they don't share values with, that they lack alignment with.

So coming back to this circumstance, you're the founder of a business, you've grown this gorgeous business. Now you have team members and you are now building your management presence. You have managers and maybe even directors. And now you're starting to hear this scuttlebutt, like, people don't want to work for so and so. People don't like working for so and so. So and so is difficult. So and so is hard to approach. So and so, her style of communicating is very different than yours.

Which could lead to people quitting. They could leave, quit, and tell you they just don't feel like working anymore. They could tell you that they just, the commute got to be too much. They had a great opportunity closer to home. They don't want to commit to as many hours anymore. They might tell you all sorts of reasons that they're quitting, but the reason they're really quitting is it's not worth it for them to keep coming to work to work for that person.

Some of them will tell you. I think if you start hearing more than one or two people tell you the same thing, you need to pay attention. Doen't mean you need to fix it. You just need to pay attention. If this is true, and then if it is true, do I, do I have a problem here? Or is this just a natural settling the business?

And one of the reasons that I work with my clients. And I am pretty dogmatic about them building what we call the leadership operating system. I want them to embrace the feminine leadership model. Leadership is feminine model. And I want them to do the One Hour Leader with me is because you have to have a framework for leadership, just like everything else that you do in your company. If you administer any kind of service or product or experience for people, there's a system that you follow to do that. I know there is. It's a formula. It's a framework. I don't, whatever you call it, it exists. The fact that you don't have that for leading people is why these things start to happen.

And also if in the absence of it, you don't have a process you can rely on to help you diagnose it. So even for my clients who do promote people and do find that people aren't working out in a management role, or there's conflict, that's okay, because we have a system we can go back to and say, "Okay, what's missing? What did we overlook? Where did we miss a meeting?"

So the framework for any role in our business is we have to have alignment to the promise. We have to have alignment to the values and expectations for behavior, and we have to have clear role. We have to have clear goals. None of that changes. So that has to be true for any management role that you promote.

But one of the things that can happen is I might see and want qualities in someone in a management position as the founder, as the owner, that feel different and land differently to the team. So I might like a straight shooter and I might like someone who means business and I might like someone who tells me like it is and I might like someone who's really hyper organized and follows through and detail oriented and I love all that. I love a great organized manager.

But we have to look at 2 sides of every coin. What's the experience then of a team member with that person? Are they approachable? Are they really analytical and not people focused? Are they a straight shooter and they don't know how to deliver feedback in a way that can be received as well as possible? Do they use the relationship they have with you to create more power and control in the relationship they have with them? A lot of people do that.

"Well, you know, I was talking to Kris the other day and she said this, this, and this, and I don't, I don't know if Chris would really like that."

"Um, I think that we need to really think about what Chris would think here."

"Well, you know, Kris was telling me that..."

Like, they use you as a mechanism for power and your team doesn't know that you're not complicit. I know I've talked about this, I think previously, but there was a time for me when I took over a team and I think I had like eight new managers at once. And I know I've said this recently, actually, in every location I would go to, they were all different. They all had their different vibe and that was fine.

But there was 1 in particular that I would walk into and everybody would run away. They'd all go in their cubbies and they would all hide. Like, I've never... It was dead quiet. And then I found out that the boss, the manager of that location who worked for me, always used me as the problem, as the reason why things were awful. "Well, Kris is telling us..." Right?

So it was actually, the opposite issue. So what he did is he made everybody love him. He was the good guy and I became the bad guy and I was like, "What are we doing?" It was the trippiest thing because it wasn't something I was used to. I'm like, "Why does everybody here hate me?" Oh, you're managing down. You're not managing up. Although he tried to do both, to be honest, that guy talked out of two sides of his mouth. And hallelujah, when he finally left, I'm not, I'm not lying. Right. I do not need people in my leadership team who need to make me or anyone else feel good and kiss my butt. Absolutely 100%. No, never.

Okay. But what can happen as someone who runs a company, you see that management role as such a way to get work accomplished. And you love that. You love when you can finally not have to do parts of the business, right? But then we can be a little hasty in how we make that transition. We can be a little hasty in how we invite people to participate and be in that management role. We could do a kind of crappy job of setting that manager up for success.

So one of the things that I always tell my clients, when you promote someone into a management role, especially if it's a role that you've had, you have to really, really talk about why this person's going to be amazing and what they're bringing to the team. You have to invest in that manager, yo. I don't know why I'm talking like this today, but you have got to invest in that manager. You have to- do they have training? Have they ever been trained to be a manager? If you're a small business owner, I will lay you 10 to one. The answer is no. And all that struggle that you had to go through to figure out how to manage people. Guess what?

And even if they've been a manager, please don't assume they were a good one. I've had so many of my clients say, "Well, she ran her own company for like 15 years and then she sold it and she decided to come work for me." I'm like, can we please not assume that just because somebody owned a company that they know what the hell they're doing?

Because listen, there's a lot who don't. I believe it's irresponsible to promote someone into a management position and not develop them as a manager. And yes, I said it. I think it is irresponsible. The managers on your team are your first team. The managers on your team are the people that are you to them. And the bigger your business gets, the more that will be true. They become your representative and the way that they process that role and the way that they handle difficult conversations and the way that they give feedback and the way that they deal with interpersonal conflict on the team and. Issues that happen every day, they're doing it out of their own brain. They're not doing it out of your brain. And if you haven't shored up your expectations for how a manager will communicate, will give feedback, will coach and develop, will engage with, will conduct a meeting for, will hire, will fire, will behave and act under stress. You have a loose cannon and you don't know what that person is doing when you're not around.

Do you want to be mad about that? Okay, but that's the truth. So if you are a boss and you have people who come to you and say you're, you're a manager I work for, they're causing a lot of problems. It's really difficult to work for them right now. Don't discount that. That doesn't mean they should go, but we got to investigate. We got to diagnose.

The first question, do they know how to manage? Do they know how to align to your expectations for managing people, for communicating with the team, for delivering difficult feedback, for delivering any kind of feedback, for engaging with them, for communicating with them? Have you watched them do it? Have you read their emails? It's kind of good to read their Slack messages. It may not be coming out the way you think it should, right?

I just recently had a client conversation and we talked about how to teach someone to start using a little emoji every now and then, just to soften up the message. Please. Thank you. And you're welcome. Go a long fricking way. I think that we think that people should just get over it. People should just not be so sensitive. People should just suck it up. Okay. And as you watch your best employee walk out the door, because she's like, "You know what? I don't have to do. I don't have to deal with that." You can keep saying better suck it up. Or you could acknowledge that that's your job.

Now, CEO, if you are going to put managers in place, then your priority is developing your leaders. The reason that that's hard is that I think we can get away with, as founders and small business owners, delegating and even abdicating tasks pretty easily. I think people still screw up if we're not clear, but a task is, you know, something people can just get better and better at.

You can't abdicate leadership. You can't just say, "Yeah, you're here. Great. Can you lead the team? We usually meet on Tuesdays." You can't assume that if they've worked for you for 12 years, they know how to be like you. And we don't want them to be like you, but we want to be aligned with you.

Now, there are times when you put someone in a management role. Let's say that you've been running your company and you haven't actually really been managing 'cause you've been so busy and you finally put a manager in place and you're like, "Oh, thank you." And this manager knows what they're doing. And this manager is developed. And this manager has experience. And this manager does start doing one-on-ones and holds people accountable and really digs into their performance, and really figures out how to help them get better or not. And people start quitting.

That actually could be good because now what's happening is they're being held accountable. They don't want to be. So you have a manager who's doing her job. That's actually okay.

I know in my past life when people would quit, it was always the bottom performers. It was always the last, the people on the bottom. And I was never sad about it. The top performers did not quit, but the bottom performers did. That's okay. I was happy with it. Less work for me, but that is something you have to distinguish if your top players are all quitting, okay, now we got to pay attention.

But if these are the people who you were like, I don't know what to do with these folks, right? And that was actually maybe part of why you started abdicating managing people in the first place. And it was easier to be stressed out and focused on all this other stuff than have to deal with people on the team who weren't really doing the job.

And then you hire a manager and she starts doing that job and then they get really mad because she's holding them accountable and then they quit. That's okay. But this is a real thing.

And I know it's important enough that it also can be head in hands sort of stuff for you when you thought you had the relief you needed. You thought you had built the infrastructure to sustain the business. You thought you had the right person to pull your culture and your expectations and the growth of your business. You thought you had that person in place who could deliver that and it doesn't happen.

And in fact, it's a bigger headache now than if you were just doing it yourself. I know that feeling. I really do. It isn't a good reason to give up on managing managers. It isn't a good reason to hire man not to hire another manager.

It is a good reason to just get really, really clear about what you're trying to achieve with the role. Have you been really clear about it? Does that person have their expectations? Have you assessed their skill? Do you tune into their communication and are you investing in them? Most people in management positions have never been given any management training.

And I know I've mentioned this on previous podcasts. That's why in our One Hour Leader, and even in our Lead Advisory, and even in our Sage program, we provide the manager formula, which is a management training program for your managers as my client. And that work is done live with Michelle Arant, who is my COO.

So she knows what it's like to work for a founder, what it's like to manage people well, and she knows all the work that I do and teach. She's certified in it. She's been doing it for years. So she runs a whole core cohort of managers that runs separate from the work I do with my clients. But we teach them accountability, and how to hire, and how to fire, and how to have difficult conversations, and how to set expectations, and how to understand their mind, and how their mind is affecting their decision making. How to deal with change and implementing.

You can't just develop yourself and expect that managers are just going to pick it up through osmosis. And you're a small business. You probably don't have a lot of resources. So that's why we do what we do. And I know that managers who get growth and development on our end, that perpetuates growth inside the business.

So I do think it's vital, but I also think it's annoying. And so a lot of you listening to this, it's like one more thing you don't want to have to deal with. Like, "It was easier when I didn't have a manager in place," but it really wasn't.

So if you get those kinds of feedback with of like, "this isn't working," first, we have to really do some investigation. Is it the people that- are the people that are complaining, the people that you just think are amazing? Or are the people that are complaining, the people that probably needed to go anyway? And now that there's a manager in place, they're able to really do a better job of accounting for their behavior and their performance.

And if you do have those kinds of complaints about someone, do you, could you speak to it? Have you witnessed it? Have you gone through their communication? Have you evaluated that?

And for as much as I think we all say, "Oh, you shouldn't be so sensitive about the way people communicate." That's all we got, yo. That's all we have anymore. If I read your words and they sit on that piece of paper and it feels like you're screaming at me or insulting me or dismissing me, I don't have anything else from you. I don't know what your intention is, and that is not a reasonable excuse. "Well, I wasn't intending to be insulting." Who cares? How do we help you communicate so that your message is better received?

I think there's just this misconception for a lot of newer managers - I won't say young because I see this at all ages- that they need to have like this authoritative approach to be respected. No. Clear, clear expectations. Consistency above all else, communication, collaboration, coordination, right? Like all the C's, cooperating. And holding the expectation.

I don't have to be cruel to you or mean to you or frustrated with you because you didn't do what you said you would do. I just have to make sure I was clear. And if you didn't do it, that's okay. Like, hey, listen, this is what you said you do, but you didn't do it.

So what are we going to do about that? This probably isn't something that can keep happening. Do you agree? You want to work on it? Versus, "You don't do your job, I'm going to tell Kris," or whatever people do. You know?

So I wanted to bring us to this podcast because I think it's real. I think it's a solvable problem. So that's what I just told the client just today. I'm like, "Listen, this is a solvable problem." So this is the best news ever. Now you may not like the solutions, but it's totally solvable. And it's incredibly common, especially for founders who hire their first kind of round of managers.

So if that's you, and you're going to be doing that, you should probably work with me and then we could just mitigate some of this. I mean, right. So anyway. There's really no leadership challenge you're going to ever bring to me that I won't be able to help you with. I say that with so much confidence and honestly, just so much calm. So I think we tend to stir and spin so much on our own issues. And I just wish you knew, like, it's okay, really, we could figure that out. You don't have to waste so much time being stressed about it.

So we're putting together another One Hour Leader. So go to thevisionary.CEO, click on the One Hour Leader and get all the details to register and come on board for the next information session. And that way you can learn about it.

So if that's you and you've got a person that you promoted to manager and they're kind of things are getting a little shaky. You're not alone. Solvable problem. But the answer is probably either going to be work for you, work for them, work for both of you. And then we can take it from there.

Okay. Thanks for tuning in.

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