Monday, October 21, 2013

Everything's Perfect - Chapter Two

The following is a recounting of an actual situation, concerning a real person. I'll call him Bruce.

Bruce is in his early 30's and has been with his current company for about 5 years. Although experienced he started by accepting an entry level position in order to work his way into management, which he has done. Bruce knows his job and has been valuable to the company, not only by managing his own units which he is doing now but by "floating" - filling in as a temporary manager with other units when needed. 

Bruce's desire all along has been to become a district manager (DM). When his previous DM moved on, he applied internally but was passed over. This prompted him to start looking elsewhere in the same field.

There's nothing out of the ordinary so far in Bruce's story. He hung in there, moved up, and expressed interest in advancing even more - just what you'd expect from a young man making his mark.

Three weeks ago, Bruce got a call from one of the businesses that received his application when the last DM departed. He interviewed, negotiated an increase in salary and got the job. He starts next week.

Okay, good for Bruce. But, as they say, there's a bit more to the story.

As a manager, Bruce has largely been autonomous. He's far from the dullest knife in the drawer and consistently "makes his numbers."  So why didn't he get the DM job?

Editorial Note. I don't really know why. I do know the person, the business, and general situation, but I am making an educated guess as to why in order to make a point.

Bruce has a number of personality deficiencies, none huge but there are lots of them. So far when it comes to making his numbers, these limitations have not held him up. However when it comes to breaking though to the next management level, it's another matter. Here's a list of some of them. Note that as an autonomous manager, these "issues" are noticeable, irksome, and troublesome from a career standpoint ONLY when someone else in management is around or when they reach the point of a write up, which is unlikely as they are small and petty even if numerous.

  • Overly chatty and prone to drama
  • Lots of talking (gossiping) on the phone concerning company and personal business
  • Lacking professional boundaries in the form of needless and inappropriate chit chat with those not needing to know
  • Doesn't train others well (too concerned with self) 
  • Avoids conflict (afraid of being disliked)
  • Tendency to subtly pick favorites 

Bruce's idiosyncrasies have doubtlessly squeaked through to some of his employment evaluations - but probably to no great effect. It's more likely that he's rubbed a few people the wrong way during his 5 year stint, enough so, that his name doesn't appear on any promotional short lists. Furthermore, there's been weak leadership and many personnel changes over his tenure, making it unlikely any of his short-comings became any one supervisor's top priority. No 360 evaluation. No caring person in a mentor role.

But now Bruce is On His Way Out and Riding High. He's switched horses and received a raise. He's feeling good and telling everyone all about it, ad nauseam.

Bruce doesn't get it. He's asleep and seemingly oblivious to his limitations and irritating ways. To a degree, he's delusional. And if he did have reservations about some of his own issues? Well, getting the new job may be a big fat vindication - after all, they love him!

So onward he goes. If the new job is equally autonomous, what's going to change about Bruce? If there's someone watching him closely, he'll be written up in short order. Should this happen (and if he's lucky to have a strong but fair manager) he'll have a chance to make corrections. However these days, especially in his industry, strong managers / leaders, are in short supply.

Our best to Bruce.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

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