Toxic Managers an Executive Briefing

Have you ever had a boss or manager who seemed to destroy the spirit of your organization? For whatever reason, their management or leadership style is noxious enough to make their personnel go from productive caring people to people who wish to sabotage the organization. Sometimes these managers are placed in their positions by executives who wish to “shake things up” in a certain department and this can turn out to backfire on them.

When toxic managers work their destructive “magic” on an organization, good, experience people leave. In the short term this may look good because it can reduce expenses, but if you lose good people, and the people who are left are passive aggressive, or more directly focused sabotage, then the organization turns unproductive and ultimately unprofitable. This destruction can be blamed on the “line” staff as an excuse, saying that “THEY” did not cope with change. But the real responsibility lies with the executive who placed the toxic manager in their new position. These executives are rarely held responsible for their bad decisions.

This is not an innocent mistake! It is a calculated escalation of bad judgment, laziness, and fear driven thinking that the incompetent executive rains down upon the department, and the organization. If they did their jobs correctly, they would have had better leaders/managers in position giving the proper training or support in the first place. So the executive is the real saboteur and yet can often sidestep the mess that they have created.

Executives need to be held accountable. They need effective coaching, mentorship, leadership, and support. You know this sounds like advice that politicians, business, government, healthcare, military, and education leadership could all benefit from practicing. Sometimes, poor leadership does not know when to ask for coaching or support. Sometimes their egos just get in the way. Whatever their excuse for bad leadership, they are responsible for the reduced productivity and poor performance of their organization.

Know your people. Do not let toxic managers subvert your organization’s work and productivity. Take responsibility and do the difficult work of finding the “right” people to manage and then let them take credit for their good work. (You can not know your people if you do not know yourself!)

Being a great manager or leader does not usually come without support, coaching, and mentoring. If you or your organization can benefit from executive coaching consider contacting the Stress Education Center at www.dstress.com for an interview that can lead to a proposal that can lead to your success.

Strategies for Hiring Winners: Executive Summary

Would you like to avoid hiring mistakes, if possible? The following are tips from executives interviewed especially for this article.

The secret to hiring “winners” is:
Know the job and your company’s culture, then find the correct person to fill the job.

Hiring mistakes are very costly. Estimates range from 1-10 times the annual salaries, with the general consensus being 3 times the annual salary. This is based on recruiting and training the wrong candidate (the mistake), waiting for the productivity that does not come, removing the person, dealing with morale and sabotage, replacing and training the next candidate. If you have an engineer or mid-level manager that earns $80,000 – $100,000 this can be a cost to your company of $240,000 to $300,000 for just one mistake!

90% of all hiring decisions are made by an interview. Interviewing is 14% accurate according to Michigan State University. This percentage can increase if you have hiring managers that are really well trained or if their intuition is very well developed. The training for interviewers must be extensive because as Victoria Perrault, VP of AFC says, there are “obvious problems” when the hiring interviews are a “fly by the seat of your pants” experience. She is leading AFC into a “Success Profile” approach to benchmark the critical success factors. Yvonne Myers, Director of HR at Legacy Marketing group (a 540 person insurance sales & marketing business), has found results to be “dead on” for their E.Q.I. Profile which creates a “footprint” (benchmark) which helps develop specific interview questions that determine the soft-skill competencies of their candidates for job success. These insure that the candidates will be the “right fit” for their organization.

More companies are assessing the competencies necessary for specific jobs within their specific cultures. Some companies are benchmarking their personnel and selecting the top performers and comparing assessment results with their poorest performers to discover the patterns of success that are required for top production and satisfaction on the job. More fortune 500 companies report that they are using assessments, which is up from 15% in 1985 to 30% in 1996 and expected to hit over 50% by 2002.

The assessments are also used for staff development, planning training, and to aid managers finding the ideal motivation for specific staff members.

Kent Sherwood, CEO of Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, emphasized the need for “integrity” as the highest quality for leadership candidates. He also looks for honesty, reliability, follow through, and straight talking. Good candidates must have the skill set necessary or have the “inclination to learn in a reasonable time” with the appropriate personality to blend with the existing culture.

Fred Philpott, VP of Human Resources for Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, uses a model to check for winning characteristics which include: A.) Technical/experience B.) Behavior: drive, urgency, ethics, Integrity, open communication, business acumen, global-strategic thinking, teaming-partnering, consensus, quick decisions, C.) Bottomline ability to influence and persuade.

Two of three companies either use recruiters or have used recruiters to get qualified candidates to interview. The other companies rely on internal referral and developing leaders from within the organization (which is a great retention strategy.)

Hiring Winners Checklist:
1. Know the job – skills, experience, soft-skills, competencies. Develop clear expectations.
2. Know your company’s culture (Mission, Vision, Values)
3. Benchmark your top and bottom performers (assess the styles, behaviors and attitudes of your winners!)
4. Develop your interview process to adequately assess candidates’ necessary soft-skills
5. Hire the Right People for the Right Job!
6. Support and develop your key talent. Get them to love your company!
7. Continuously re-assess your hiring process.

W. Edwards Deming said, “If a person is not performing as expected, it is probably because they have been miscast for the job.”

Special thanks to all the business leaders who contributed their business wisdom and experience including (in order of interview dates): Kent Sherwood, CEO of Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa Deborah Meekins, President and CEO of Sonoma National Bank Greg Peters, President and CEO of Mahi Networks Victoria Perrault, VP of Administrative Services of AFC Seritta White, CEO of S.K. White Consulting Fred Philpott, VP of Human Resources of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates Rob Thorson, Manager of Human Resources of Westamerica Bank Shirley Gordon, VP for Northern California of State Farm Insurance Yvonne Myers, Director of Human Resources of Legacy Marketing Group Martin Grove, District Manager of State Compensation Insurance Fund Paul Herrerias, CEO of Herrerias & Associates

This executive summary is based on interviews and research conducted by L. John Mason, Ph.D. of the Stress Education Center.

For a detailed report on the Hiring Winners and Retaining Key Personnel please contact Dr. Mason at mason@dstress.com or (360) 593-3833. Ask about a proposal for benchmarking your top performers with special assessments that are designed to help you match their behaviors and attitudes with potential new hires.

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Executive Coaching and Training.

Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website at http://www.dstress.com for articles, free blog signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.