Mudslinging appears to be alive and well in family business. No I am not talking about the intra family emotional skirmishes where one or all parties say awful, hurtful things that they don’t mean. The mudslinging I am talking about occurs when highly motivated and successful sales persons, technicians, engineers, etc distinguish themselves through dedication, hard work, loyalty and exemplary performance. Consequently ownership recognizes them as rising stars by promoting them to management. Preparation for the new challenge” usually consists of a well-done pat on the back and proud reaffirmation that “we promote from within”. And this is effectively where the mudslinging begins as in let’s just see what these guys have got. Let’s see if they can handle the new challenge as in “if the mud sticks against the wall then maybe we’ve got something here.”
The result is that far too many great sales persons, technicians, engineers etc do not stick. Although they were great in their prior job, in the world of management they are lost to frustration and disillusionment because the vast majority of behavior, attitude skills and knowledge that previously made them successful do not work in management. The collective thoughts reflective of a cold shower introduction to management could commonly go something like this: “My success was previously simple: about me, my attitude, my skill, my commitment and my productivity. Although I was very pleased with the promotion, my life has now become much more complex. I have both my boss above me to make happy and my people below me to make happy. I go from being a star employee to a lousy manager. My success now depends upon others, my people, my team. Maybe I missed something but I don’t remember anyone showing me how to transfer my motivation to others; how to convince a group of competitive, petty back biters to do what I want them to do in a cooperative efficient manner.”
Based upon my experience I can attest that this is more the norm than the exception. Consequently ownership is frustrated and disillusioned because they cannot fill management needs. They spend most of their time putting out fires created by inept management. To further frustrate matters, in many cases a superb salesman, technician or engineer is lost because these key performers do not take failure lightly. They would rather go to a competitor and start over in their old position than get busted and embarrassed where they are. So let’s continue our thought as to how the frustration and disillusionment of novice managers can be reduced and organizational inefficiency and talent loss can be avoided.
Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to stay informed on how to overcome related succession planning issues.