Being a Manager is challenging, and being accountable for the work and the behavior of a subordinate adds another layer of complexity to your challenges. Ensuring that the right person you promote is capable of doing the work and fitting in with their new peer group is necessary.
Mike was contacted by a COO of a mid-size manufacturing plant. The COO Nikhil recently promoted Jackson from Production Manager to General Manager of Production.
A promotion that required Jackson too;
- Determine, handle, and plan many Subordinate Managers’ projects and their capability to see each project’s interconnectedness.
- Individually pursuing subprojects simultaneously and connecting them, keeping the Subordinate Managers, himself, and the multiple goals plus projects synchrony with one another in resourcing and on schedule.
Additionally, Jackson now had to attend the Executive Briefing Meetings where the CEO, COO, CFO, and all the General Managers from the other Manufacturing areas of the plant met weekly to find solutions and update the status on various projects.
Nikhil was concerned because Jackson did not share freely and openly; he would only speak when directly asked a question or spoken to. The Executive Meeting climate was aggressive, and often the executives would become engaged in passionate discussions about the plant’s future and current projects. The Executive team was high functioning – meaning that these debates were focused on the facility’s betterment. These meetings ended with a shared agreement of what to do next, and the CEO was consistently held accountable for her subordinates’ outputs. The COO, Nikhil, was responsible for Jackson’s work. Jackson’s quiet demeanor in these meetings was causing concern amongst the other C-level managers in the plant, and Nikhil was getting some guff for perhaps making the wrong choice in promoting Jackson.
Nikhil and I sat to determine some objectives for the Leadership Coaching with Jackson, they were;
- To determine if Jackson has the Capability to handle the level and time-span of work required.
- Improve Nikhil’s standing with the Executives by highlighting the talents and skilled knowledge of Jackson.
- Get Jackson to speak up in the executive meetings.
- Jackson came to the meetings prepared to share solutions to the Production Projects’ challenges and successes without Nikhil’s prompting and support.
- Evaluate Jackson’s ability and meeting presence in his meetings with his subordinate managers.
Jackson and I sat to determine some objectives for the Leadership Coaching, they were;
- To better show his capability to handle the work to the Executive Managers.
- Get Nikhil to stop “over-managing” him in the Executive Meetings.
- Be able to speak with confidence in the Executive Meetings.
- Improve his ability to lead meetings with his Subordinate Managers, leading to solutions and shared goals, much like the executive meetings.
All the above objectives were placed on an Interview and evidence through observation and feedback metric. This feedback metric was used to develop a baseline where Nikhil and Jackson perceived themselves to be about the objectives and perceived each other for the objectives.
I met with Jackson and quickly determined that he had the Current Applied Capability to handle the work’s role and complexity. He lacked the skilled knowledge of how to be heard in a room of 12 powerful, proud and screaming executives. Determining these two things allowed all the other objectives to fall into place.
Jackson had to develop skills in being heard. Normally he is a quiet and reserved person, and that has worked well for him. The following brief experiment was suggested after our second Leadership Coaching meeting;
- Talk Less
- Listen More
- While you listen, take notes, and observe the signs that people show when they speak.
- While you listen, take notes, and look for the signs that people show when they are ready to hear.
- While you are watching, think to yourself and write in your notes, “If I was to speak, how would I interject into this conversation. How would I know that it is appropriate to talk and when to listen.”
We met one week later to see what was better. Jackson had TWO 6 x 9, 70 sheet steno pads full of notes! During the leadership coaching meeting, Jackson shared that by taking the notes and listening more, “I had a comfort to use what I already have and realized that I speak more than I notice. The problem was in the Executive Meetings I was not looking for the signals…Now that I am again looking for the signs, I know how to solve the problem and be more assertive in the executive meetings.”
I asked, “When is the next Executive Meeting?” Jackson replied, “This week in two days.” We scheduled a time to meet after the executive meeting.
In our next leadership coaching meeting, Jackson reported;
- He engaged in a challenging argument with the General Manager of Sales over unrealistic time frames for producing an item. The CEO agreed with Jackson, and the Executive chose to change the time-frame to match Jackson’s input.
- Nikhil took Jackson out to Dinner after the meeting and shared how impressed he was with Jackson’s newfound confidence.
- Jackson also reported that Nikhil had changed his behavior around him; he now seems more laid back and allows Jackson greater autonomy to complete the projects and speak in other Production meetings.
- In his recent Subordinate Manager Meeting, Jackson shared that he challenged a Production Manager who was being a jerk and demeaning another employee; This made Jackson feel more in control of his meetings.
In a follow-up meeting with Nikhil, he reported;
- Jackson had made a 180-degree turnaround in the Executive Meetings and is now sharing and pushing the Executives to hear his points.
- The other C-Level managers congratulated Nikhil on promoting the right person and coaching him to be so effective.
- Nikhil reported that Jackson’s on-time production has increased, and the overtime in the department has decreased – again highlighting Jackson’s skills and talents.
- Nikhil sat in on several of Jackson’s Subordinate Manager Meetings and was impressed at the level of professionalism, competence, and passion the Manager showed for their work and Jackson.
The Leadership Coaching Contract lasted two more months. The metrics we created at the beginning based on observations and feedback continually improved with an average improvement of 4 points on a 10 point scale ( the Average increase was from 3 to a 7, with evidence to show the improvement).
Specific Exponent Leadership Content Used;
- Goal Setting & Time Span
- Planning Creating a Future
- High-Performance Teams
- Communication; Effective Listening
- Coaching: Building Capacity for Effectiveness
- Managerial Authority: TimeSpan and Accountability
- Bringing Out the Best in People