'Drill Sergeant' Manager Stumps Employer

Q. We recently hired a new manager who came with excellent credentials, experience and qualifications. He appeared to be out going and congenial type of person, but his management style is like a drill sergeant.

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He has only been with us three weeks, but his department is in an uproar. Our probationary period is normally six months But if this guy is around here that long, we may have an employee riot on our hands. Is it dangerous to fire him this early in the probationary period? What should we do?

A. Sometimes no matter how painstakingly an employer carries out the hiring process, the employer ends up with something less than what the business was looking for. But don't let the employee's newness immobilize you from taking action.

You're concerned about your probationary period. Probationary is a word, a practice that is disappearing from the workplace. Why? Because it implies it is only during this designated time period the employee can be terminated. And further, it implies that once the employee is past this time line, employment is endless. Consider dropping your "probationary" period.

Your new manager needs to understand the culture of your workplace. Maybe his previous employer expected managers to be hard-nosed and domineering.

Here are some suggestions for dealing with your new manager:

1. Honestly evaluate your own thoroughness in training and acquainting him with your workplace culture. Did you discuss with him the kind of management style you prefer?

2. Talk with him about his performance. Be honest and candid about his management approach and how it is different from what you expect and want.

3. Give him specific areas where you want to see change. Be specific about the change you want to see. Put your requirements in writing and give a copy to him.

Example: You might say something like this to him: "You must stop your continual criticism of employees' performance. When it is necessary for you to give an employee a correction, do so in private. And follow the correction with an explanation of the correct behavior you want to see. In addition, for the next five workdays catch each employee doing something right each day and compliment the employee for that. Following this, each week catch each employee doing something right at least once a week and compliment the employee for it. During the next six weeks, at the end of each week, give me a written report listing each employee and briefly describe what it was you caught the employee doing right."

4. Set a time frame for change. You need to see cooperation and improvement on his part fairly soon... one-to-two weeks. In fact, there are probably specific behaviors you will want him to stop, and some to begin, immediately.

5. Encourage him to come to you with any questions.

6. Be fair. Even experienced management people need training and guidance. They need the opportunity to learn it your way.

7. Catch the manager doing something right. Observe his performance as a manager, and when you see him dealing with employees and coaching employees in ways you appreciate, let him know of your approval.

8. If the manager doesn't come through with what you need within your designated time frame, terminate him.

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