In several of my prior articles, I have written about the weak person on the management team. My suggestions are to either replace the person or support/train that individual to grow to handle the responsibilities of their job. It is always a tough decision for me, because when a company is losing money, I do not have a lot of time to wait for that manager to turn around and be productive.
There have been several situations with my clients where the opposite has been true. There have been Superstar Employees who have impacted the client causing the company to be less distressed. What I mean is, a young person, working for the organization, who was a great employee, but because the company was losing money and distressed, this person was buried in the swamp and not noticed.
I recently had an engineering client that had lost almost $1,000,000 in the previous year, before I was hired to turn the company around. There was a young field man who worked in the construction materials testing department as a field engineer. During the turnaround engagement, he would often stop in to see me early in the morning before he would go out in the field to do his daily duties. Many times, he very professionally offered suggestions on how the company could reduce costs, improve efficiencies and develop a much better customer service policy for the firm’s clients. He was not acting as a “whistleblower,” but suggested some very valid ideas on how to improve functions within his department. Initially, because he was so young, I would listen to him and then continue with what I was working on at the time.
One morning, he showed up at my office with a typed list of bullet points of his ideas on how to improve the company’s service and reduce costs at the same time. He gave me a copy of his list, and we talked for two hours about all his ideas. As he spoke, I took notes because 90% of what he said was useful to my turnaround engagement. I knew that he was an excellent employee of the company. I also recognized that he would be a more valuable manager for this client.
Without him realizing what he was doing, this young man was proving to me that he was a “Superstar Employee!” Within a week of our meeting, a field supervisor position opened, and I promoted him to the job. I monitored him in his new role and the reporting of the teams that he was supervising. His group of engineers was performing more efficiently than any other team in the firm.
During the 5-month engagement, I implemented most of the changes that he suggested from our morning meetings. I promoted him again to the manager of the department by the end of the turnaround engagement. He went from doing inspections in the field to managing 60 field engineers at his branch office.
Equally as important to getting rid of the “deadwood” within a company – to improve the cash flow, corporate culture, and employee morale – is acknowledging and promoting the “Superstars” who are very impactful when it comes to accomplishing the profit goals. My advice? Take care of your Superstars!