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Unorganized Manager Causes Turnover

Q. Our very talented marketing manager is personable but flighty. She accomplishes more than any two other individuals combined but is disorganized. To compensate for her deficiencies, we hire very organized, structured, detail-oriented individuals to work for her. Unfortunately, she ticks them off and they lose morale after just a few months.

She's always devastated because her heart is in the right place and then she does everything she can to fix things. Unfortunately, the last two assistants never got off their "she isn't systematic so I don't like her" kick. The manager is incredibly creative and our clients love her but we need to fix this.

A. When you hire her next assistant, screen for someone who is nonjudgmental and supportive.

Many structured, detail-oriented individuals feel uncomfortable operating outside their comfort zone. Your manager forces them to do so. If they additionally possess a judgmental nature, they blame her for their discomfort.

You can screen for judgmentalness by asking applicants, "On a scale of zero to 10, with 10 being judgmental, where would you rate yourself," and listening to how they answer the question, and ask, "What led you to leave your last three jobs?" noticing if they take digs at former employers.

Second, some support staff define their role as support. Others don't, and ultimately they resent being in the No. 2 role. When you force a judgmental, structured, want-to-be-No.-1 professional to work for a less organized manager, you ignite frustration.

Finally, your manager needs to change as well. Give her departing assistants thorough exit interviews, learn the areas that created the worst rub and ask your manager to change in ways that make it easier on those working for her -- if you want to stop your revolving door.

Dr. Lynne Curry is a management/employee trainer and owner of the consulting firm The Growth Company Inc. Send your questions to her at lynne@thegrowthcompany.com

You can follow Lynne on Twitter @lynnecurry10 or through www.workplacecoachblog.com

Lynne Curry, October 2013, www.thegrowthcompany.com

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