Manager Profiling Made Easy

Fran Duskiewicz

Duskiewicz_Fran_72dpiIt takes experience to identify certain managerial styles, and a strong will to overcome them.

By Fran Duskiewicz

One mistake newly promoted supervisors often make is believing that they can change managers who might have some issues in management style.

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Sometimes, with added responsibility and power, they approach dealing with these issues in a rather ham-handed way, which only serves to make matters worse. The problem is exacerbated when the new supervisor has just been directly promoted from a store and their own management style is the only one he or she knows—and trusts.

Somehow we must train these new supervisors to see that they can’t change people, but they can affect behavior by being creative, maximizing good management traits and finding solutions for the bad ones. In essence, it’s being a productive middle manager and not a hammer.

Let’s meet a couple of industry examples: the Income Generator (Mr. IG) and the Asset Protector (Miss AP.)

Mr. IG manages a high volume store that always looks great on paper and not so great in person. The parking lot always seems to need policing and the trash containers always seem to need emptying.
However, the store just hums with business and activity. When you walk in the front door, there is never an empty point-of-sale (POS) and lines are moving. Some restocking is needed, but only because sales are cranking.

You will not find Mr. IG in the office. He’s up front taking care of people, jumping on an available POS or even helping in the foodservice area. He spends time with vendors and makes sure his orders are correct and that he’s getting the best deals. However, when you go back to Mr. IG’s office, you find that the bookwork isn’t done and the bank deposit is sitting on the desk.

The folks in your office disapprove of Mr. IG because they always have to remind him to get the bookwork done and money to the bank. Senior management loves Mr. IG because his store makes a great profit, his people love him and customers rave about the service, but there are serious problems that must be addressed.

Miss AP manages a good volume store with several long-term employees. The store shines and usually grades out with nearly perfect inspection scores. There is always an unopened POS and the store never uses all of its allotted budgeted labor. Lines can get a bit long.

You know where you will find Miss AP—in the office trying to find a $10 cash shortage or attempting to write the perfect schedule. Cash variances and inventory shrink are almost nil, but so is spoilage, meaning that sometimes fast moving food items will not be prepared because spoilage is perceived as “bad.”

Miss AP’s greatest fear is “being yelled at” although that has never happened in the 10 years she’s managed her store.

The people in your office love her, but she frustrates you because she is so stringent in her approach that you know she is limiting growth.

What’s the worst management trait of Miss AP? She only hires people similar to herself. Her good inspection scores irritate you.

What to do?

Well, how about taking one of Miss AP’s long-term, control-oriented assistant managers and transferring her to Mr. IG’s store? Give her a bump in pay and a new title—assistant accounting manager.

Let her take care of all those backroom things that are problems for Mr. IG and his current assistant, who is cut from the same cloth as Mr. IG. Everyone will be happy, including the office, and maybe the new accounting assistant will bloom by being exposed to a different management style.

This approach will not work with Miss AP. A new assistant with a different approach will be viewed as an irritant and create tension in a store that is already a bit strained.

You have to use Miss AP’s fear of failing by documenting those things you don’t like and downgrading her performance because of them. You document too much time in the office, not using labor hours and stagnant sales. You balance the low spoilage by criticizing out of stocks. You issue demerits whenever you see a line and an unopened POS.

Praise and pats on the back are earned by behavior that has previously been counter-intuitive to Miss AP.

Am I saying that a good supervisor has to be part psychologist? Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying. It’s the people approach to the business, and is the only one I know.