PeopleSpark Consulting

Sep 16, 2022

How to Fix Hiring the Wrong Person for Ag Company Manager

Take swift action, practice talking points before tough discussions and remain empathetic

“We made a really hasty decision to move someone into a manager role, and I just don’t think it’s working.”

When a person chooses to leave your company, the immediate crisis — filling the gap — often takes over our minds as the most important priority. Making decisions quickly, without giving yourself room to look more objectively at what’s needed can create significant issues and problems in the business.

As we began to work with one client, we uncovered more information that became unsettling: team members were afraid of the manager (so they would bypass the manager and go straight to the owner), the manager wasn’t involved in training employees (so team members needed to do it themselves, hoping they trained correctly and on the right things), and the manager was the sole point of access for some of their business systems (because they were more tech-savvy, therefore the owners had them roll out new technology, like time tracking systems, etc.).

I began to ask the owners about the feedback they’d previously given the manager, and whether there were discussions about the manager’s interest in leading people (they didn’t enjoy it). As we talked further, the reality began to get scary for them.

Then I heard responses like: Maybe we don’t remove them right now. … We’re heading into a busy period, and I think another change would be too much. … Maybe they’ll just leave on their own.

Don’t wait to take action

Here’s the truth of the matter: The longer this manager stayed in the organization, the more damage the owners would need to clean up later. Some employees had already shared they were not sure how much longer they could work in the environment, but they hated to consider leaving because they loved the other team members and the owner.

Not only that, but the owner also needed a contingency plan to ensure their business wouldn’t be impacted if the manager chose to not show up one day.

Sitting the manager down to speak directly to them was necessary and was the scariest part of it. First, I answered the owners’ questions, like What would I say? What am I allowed to say? What if they up and leave?

Build talking points beforehand

On the phone, we started building talking points together that would allow them to be direct AND be authentic in their care for the manager. The owner recognized the manager just wasn’t a good fit — it wasn’t that they weren’t a good person.

We referenced back to earlier discussions to remind the manager that this wasn’t the first time a conversation like this has been had. Using some of the tools we teach, we incorporated in clear feedback they could use:

  • “We’ve had discussions about X, Y, and Z before. I’ve noticed that while some of these improved earlier on, progress hasn’t been sustained. It leads me to believe you don’t enjoy this work. How do you see it?”
  • “I want to let you know that the decision has been made to end your employment with us. My intent is to be straightforward and respectful with you. My intent is not to try and draw out a long process when you’ve shared you don’t enjoy this position.”
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Seek guidance when unsure

The relief I heard from the owner as we practiced the talking points was incredible. They shared how paralyzed they had felt to do or say anything before, because they didn’t feel confident on what to say or how to say it.

That’s where our Bat Signal comes in -- to help YOUR intended message get packaged up to say what you need to say (for your business, for your team, for your exiting employee), and how to say it (to preserve the culture you want, and to respect the other person).

Submit your questions and ideas to me directly at [email protected], and you might just see yours end up in a future blog!

Erin Mies

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