Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Exposing, Fixing 'Mike Problem' Can Be Difficult

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Exposing, Fixing 'Mike Problem' Can Be Difficult

Article excerpt

Dear Joan:

I've been working for a medium-sized manufacturing company in a non-sales-related job for the past 20 years. I'm not in sales but interact with sales people on a daily basis. Over the past year or so, I have noticed the sales force has been frustrated. After numerous conversations with not only the sales force, but also other people in all aspects of the company, I have realized that the poison is coming from one person: the sales manager (let's call him "Mike").

Mike has been with the company for over 10 years and has successfully maneuvered his way to the position of sales manager. All of his promotions were given to him because of his own self-promotion. He has an enormous ego. His tactic of bulldog management, double standards and outright lying is driving his sales force out and is frustrating people all over the company.

He is disliked, even hated, by almost everyone in the company. Amazingly, Mike doesn't realize what people think of him. I believe the owners tolerate Mike's behavior because he has produced decent sales over the years. This year, sales are substantially down. I believe the company is going to start losing good sales people because of Mike.

Here's why: Nobody will confront him, because if they do, he threatens them or makes them do some ridiculous assignment. All conversations with Mike are one-sided. If you bring up a concern that involves him, he will change the subject and dismiss you. It's like he is afraid of the truth. He is dishonest and essentially a loose cannon. I believe the owners know, but they continue to let him act this way. I believe Mike will never leave because he knows he could never get away with the things he does anywhere else. My concern is that if the owners don't fix the "Mike problem," they will start to lose good sales people. Any advice?

Answer:

Many of us know "Mike." He (or she) seems to have two faces: one senior management sees and the one his or her employees see. In almost every case, Mike has interpersonal skills that are used for personal gain at the expense of others. Mike climbs the organizational ladder by working the political game to his advantage. Corporate Mikes seem to have a gift for positioning themselves with the right people. And as long as their results are good and the troops are intimidated into silence, their personal empires continue to grow. Many make it into senior management.

The shortage of labor doesn't seem to be hurting people like Mike. In fact, it may be just the environment in which ruthless managers can survive. The current poll on our Web site seems to support this theory. We ask, "In which of the following skills does your manager need the most improvement?" One of the top responses is, "Addresses poor performance/Holds employees accountable for their responsibilities. …

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