Posted tagged ‘False kindness’

Courageous Leadership? On the Line at GM

February 23, 2009

After a recent session that I presented on success measures, I was asked by one of the participants about the fiscal crisis plaguing our three major United States automakers, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. The person was wondered why these three manufacturers, with all of the many intelligent and professional leaders in their employ, continued to build cars that the American public did not want to buy.

I responded by explaining that the automakers knew what they were doing and how their cars were being received.  In fact, the problems plaguing the car manufacturers were not one of knowledge but rather of courage.

Paul Ingrassia, Wall Street Journal writer and bureau chief, articulated this issue as it relates to GM beautifully in his Journal opinion column on February 19th.

According to Ingrassia, there are several issues that have created this predicament. Here are two.

(1)   The car manufacturers agreed to let auto workers retire with full pension and benefits after 30 years, This means that it is very conceivable for an employee to be paid for thirty plus years and not contribute to the end product. Couple this scenario with greater life spans and rising costs in health care and the cost structure take a painful hit. Add in the nation’s desire to have smaller cars with smaller price tags and competitive margins and the problem is exacerbated. One can only surmise that new and fresh ideas and the investment in R&D was limited because of these cost factors.

(2)   GM continued to keep two losing brands alive – Saab and Saturn – even though it was costing them money to do so. This was done because the company had spent $1.3 billion dollars to shut down its Oldsmobile brand in a way that allowed them to comply with state-dealer franchise laws.

Could this crisis have been averted? Very possibly but it would have required courageous leadership to take on the unions early on and absorb the short-term losses inherent with shutting down a failing brand early on.

Some weeks ago, we spoke about the concept of false kindness and the consequences of putting off uncomfortable decision s regarding staff. The car crisis today is yet another example of the need of leaders to be willing to do unpopular things, when they need to be done.

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And after all that, my new hire is not doing well…what should I do?

November 23, 2008

Regardless of all of the analysis or perhaps, even as a result of it, we all discover that there are certain employees or new hires who are not in the right job or simply do not belong in the organization. These are people who are not achieving their performance goals or are failing to exercise leadership effectively. An effective leader must address this situation as well.

Failure to do so exhibits false kindness. While it may be easier to leave these professionals in their roles, doing so harms the leader, other staff, and the whole company. Additionally, it sends a message that non-performance is acceptable in the company.

An employee may not be effective in the job because of any of six reasons. The person lacks the ability, was improperly trained or oriented, has the wrong attitude, demonstrates the wrong behaviors, lacks the required skills, or lacks experience.

To remedy these situations, there are four options. . You can train the employee, coach him or her, shift the person to another position, or let the person go. There is a way to determine what the appropriate remedy for each situation is.

If it is a matter of skills, training is the appropriate remedy.

Attitude related issues may be remedied by discovering what is causing the difficulty, and then addressing the issue while coaching and motivating the employee.

Correcting behavioral issues requires coaching and patience. Behaviors shift over time. In order for the supervisor to determine whether that amount of effort should be expended, he or she must determine whether the employee adds significant value in other areas.

If the person lacks sufficient experience, it may be possible to shift the employee to a position where her/his experience level is appropriate.

If the person lacks the ability, that individual should be let go. No amount of training, coaching, or shifting will allow him or her to make a meaningful contribution.

In the course of my career as a CEO and COO, I have had to let people go. In each case, I attempted to make sure that they left with their dignity intact, with appropriate severance, and frequently with another job in hand. In several cases, I created an exit strategy that allowed them to stay in their job until they found another and could then announce to their colleagues that they had accepted another position. In other words, if you release people in the same way that you hire and manage them, with integrity, honesty, and communication, the difficult process of letting people go is much easier.


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