Promoted to Failure

Another update from the Jungle….

actionplanJulia, the HR manager, is watching her company’s diversity and inclusion program go hideously wrong. Julia pushed every level of management all the way to the C-suite, urging them to broaden the pool of employees eligible for promotion to management. What did all her effort get her? Margaret.

Margaret worked in operations for many years and understands the technical side of the job but her interpersonal skills are dismal. She’s whiny and needy and self-absorbed. Some of her shortcomings might have been fixed if the C-suite had accepted Julia’s recommendation to create a management training program.

Instead, Margaret was promoted to manager without training or a mentor to help her. Now she micromanages her subordinates and refuses to delegate any decision-making authority to them. But she’s afraid of being held responsible if something goes wrong so she fails to make any decisions.

When other department managers complain that their work is disrupted, Margaret blames her subordinates of incompetence. Her subordinates show up and don’t do their jobs since they know bossany actions they take are likely to be undermined by Margaret. Most of them are applying for transfers away from her.

The stress on Margaret is so intense that she suffers from migraines and works from home several days a week. When she does come into the office, she is so unpleasant that everyone avoids her.

The steady rumble of discontent is growing so loud that the C-suite is having trouble ignoring it. Julia is desperately searching for a solution to the whole mess but she’s run out of time. In today’s mail she receives an EEOC notice letter that a complaint of racial discrimination has been made against Margaret by Margaret’s secretary.

What should Julia do next?

  1. She can recommend that Margaret be appointed special liaison to the company’s suppliers with an immediate posting to, say, Shanghai or Taipei.
  2. She can investigate the charges and then artfully respond to the EEOC in a way that is slightly more flattering than the actual situation warrants.
  3. She can notify the C-Suite of the EEOC investigation and use this as an opportunity to convince the senior managers to approve a training program for new managers.

In the actual situation, the EEOC concluded there was no racial discrimination because the new manager treated all her subordinates like crap. The employer hailed this decision as a victory. The new manager was eventually reassigned during a departmental reorganization but the employer still doesn’t have a training program for new managers.

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