“We Didn’t Need Bob (or Sue), Anyway…”

Feb 05, 2007

How many times have you heard it? Someone turns in their notice to leave and the response of his or her immediate supervisor is: “We didn’t need Bob (or Sue), anyway,” or, “We were going to get rid of Bob, anyway.” If you are an owner in the company and you aren’t upset by these kinds of statements, there’s something wrong with you! This is ridiculous. The manager is not dealing with their problems if they really feel that it was a good thing that someone turned in their notice. Why didn’t the manager take action first? It makes the company look bad and shows how weak the manager is. The other morning, I had breakfast with an old friend of mine who is a very successful manager of a pretty good-sized office. He was having problems with the relationship of two of his support staff. They just don’t get along. One is a younger woman and one is an older woman. The younger one is a busybody who wants to run the place and the older one is competent and said to be mean. There were many more details to his story, but my unsolicited advice to him was to deal with this problem, NOW. It is polluting his office. The line staff needs to be concerned with doing the things that bring money into the firm and this little drama was sucking everyone down into its little vortex of negativity. The conflict needs to end now or one, or both, of these people needs to be replaced. No point in spending a lot of time and managerial attention on this one! Ditto for the situation where you have someone in a job who simply won’t do what they are supposed to. Whether that’s a business development person who won’t leave the office, a recruiter who can’t fill a job without placing an ad, or an architect who can’t draw (or use CADD)— they need to go. Don’t wait for them to quit. Letting them quit before you fire them sends out a terrible message to the firm and the community you are in. It says: “You are a bad employer. People don’t do well working in your firm. Your work environment is bad. You are a bad manager.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to hear this kind of stuff about my company. There are so many things that companies do that waste their management’s time and reduce their performance. At the top of that list is tolerating people who are stealing from the firm, who are dishonest, who cause trouble, who don’t carry their weight, who are lazy, or who won’t do what they need to do to be successful. These people must go now, not later. You need to direct your attention to growing the firm, making it more profitable, and making it more valuable. So, if you hear anything such as “no great loss” when Ed, the Tallahasee structural department head, turns his notice in, get excited. Find out how many more “Eds” work in your firm and get their managers to deal with them. And if their managers won’t do their jobs, find someone else who will. It sounds hardline, but it may be time to get that way. Confront the non-performers, malcontents, and dysfunctional employees before they leave on their own. Confront the managers who tolerate them. Set the example that needs to be set and earn your paycheck. Originally published 2/05/2007

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.