Peter Livingstone of St Leonards, New South Wales asks:
I own a business
organised into 5 teams of ten people, each led by competent managers who
report to me. Often, in their first week, new recruits reporting to my
managers will corner me for an off-the-cuff audience, asking advice
about their job. I generally like these moments. So I find myself in
impromptu training sessions which they seem to like and these sessions
even turn to career advancement tips. I sometimes take the more
enthusiastic of them to lunch. Though I’m not sure, I sense some of my
managers are a little territorial about these interactions but I’m
motivated only to ensure the recruits are trained properly. What do you
Kenelm Tonkin, Chairman, Tonkin Corporation answers.
This management style will cause an exodus.
The employees who keep their heads down and don’t play this game will
see you rewarding office politics. Having invested themselves in the
hard-work, no-politics approach and hoped to be recognised for this,
they soon lose respect for the business owner and vote with their feet.
Staff who cultivate a favoured relationship with the business owner
believe they are making real progress at first. They are pleased with
the entrepreneur’s attentiveness. Then, over time and as other recruits
walk through the door, they begin to realise the owner does this with
everyone willing to project themselves. Soon, resentment festers and
negativity emerges. Familiarity breeds contempt. They walk eventually
because their political efforts aren’t advancing their careers quickly
The managers become discouraged very quickly. When a business owner
starts second-guessing their training skills, it really is a case of
poor management skills by the business owner or a vote of no confidence
by the entrepreneur in the manager. Either reason encourages the manager
With immediate effect, it is best to actively shun these ad hoc interactions. Say “I haven’t the time right now. However, I’m confident your manager is well placed to help you.”
Control any temptation to train the team members directly. You should
train the trainer not train the trainee.
Finally, no-one respects an
owner who plays favourites.