Tuesday 30 June 2015

A Manager's Greatest Compliment

As a leader in the boardroom or in sport, there will inevitably be times when someone just doesn’t quite fit the team. Such scenarios often become obvious quite quickly, in which case the decision to let the individual leave is a simple one. But what if it isn’t so clear cut? Such decision making becomes far more ambiguous once one or more of the following factors come into play:

* Perhaps the company went out of their way to recruit this individual
* Their experience provided the perfect background for the role with you
* There may be a personal relationship that has been built up over time

Such cases often lead to procrastination on the part of the leader, as no decision is perhaps seen as a better way to avert criticism than a wrong decision. The final choice, in such situations, should always include what is best for the employee themselves. For certain, as business managers and owners, our first priority will always be the success of the company, yet if a member of the team is unhappy in your environment, regardless of their ability, they are less likely to achieve their potential, and as managers, surely unlocking that potential is the fundamental goal. Using a sport analogy, a player at a smaller club may have the ability to achieve greater things, but to do this they must transfer to a larger club. Gareth Bale, the ‘Welsh Wizard’, epitomised this with a transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid, a club at which he now thrives. Those of you with any level of interest in sport could list dozens of similar examples. It is not necessarily the case that the employee is any better than anyone else within the company, just that a change of environment is required for them, and for the rest of your team.

It goes without saying that letting an employee go should be seen only ever as a last resort. Before taking such a decision, all alternatives should be exhausted to see if you can reach an understanding of why there is an issue, and if it can be resolved. However if the issue is beyond repair, perhaps cutting across beliefs and values of the organisation or your management style, it is probably time to part company.

Such decisions are hardly easy, but they allow the individual to excel personally even if that requires leaving your team, providing them with the platform to move onto better things. It also relieves the rest of your team of any tension or stress that having the individual on board may have caused, allowing them to deliver an improved performance. Fundamentally, when we look beyond our selfish interests, is this not a manager’s greatest accolade - the encouragement and facilitation of success for employees in whatever way possible, even if that means letting them go?

Their failure to thrive in your environment may present the opportunity for them to succeed in someone else’s.