Episode 162.5 – Green Apple Slice


Forget Hiring Great People Until You Fire Your Lousy Managers



The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or an Android app.

This week, John and Rachel discuss a Forbes article, “Forget Hiring Great People Until You Fire Your Lousy Managers” by Jeff Hyman.


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    Good morning. It’s John Garrett coming to you with another episode of Green Apple Slices. I have on the phone, international travelling guru. Actually, her real title is Accountants & Alliances for Canada Sage, Canada something, Canada.

    Rachel: Yeah.

    John: One of these days, you’ll get a new one. You’re in the US, yes?

    Rachel: I am freshly back from the US so close; finally back to New York City for the very first time. I used to have a friend who live there that I was hoping could be my tour guide, but then he moved away and was a real jerk about it. I left my own devices with some awesome friends. We managed not get arrested. Yeah, but awesome incredible city, fantastic. It was actually for the AICPA Global Women’s Summit. I’m actually at home this week and then just a quick little trip off to Ottawa next week.

    John: Awesome. Very cool, very cool. Well, we always get together and talk through an article that we find online. I found this one Forbes, an article by Jeff Hyman. It was “Forget Hiring Great People Until You Fire Your Lousy Managers.” This hit way too close to home for me because my last corporate job many years ago involved exactly this. It feels like, “Oh my goodness.” It was one of those where you go back to lunch six months later to hang out with everybody. Then you’re meeting new people that replaced the people replaced after me. It was like, “That is some fast turnover.” But it’s one of those where the organization says, “Well, it must be the people that we’re hiring.” It’s like, “No. The common denominator to all of these people leaving is the manager.” You’ve got to take a look at that if you’re an organization for sure.

    Rachel: Yeah. No, absolutely. This is one of those titles where you’re like, “Yes.” You really hope, as you read the article, you’re not going to read anything that you’re like, “Oh, crap, that’s me.” You do not want to be that, right?

    John: Right.

    Rachel: But I think one of the things that I’ve seen in firms, as I tend to talk a lot of them these days, is that in many cases — and sometimes it depends on the size of the firm and stuff like that or how they’ve grown — but in many cases, it’s like as you’ve said before. We’ve got these accountants that go through this really defined ladder process. You’re an associate, then a senior associate, then an assistant manager, then a blah, blah, blah, right? All of the different steps. Basically, every year or two, you either get promoted or you get fired. As long as you can keep probably rechargeable hours just like the biggest KPI when it comes to this kind of thing in firms, then you just keep going up the ladder. Then it feels like by the time somebody notices that you’re senior manager, director or sometimes partner, it’s like, “Oh, crap. They suck.”

    John: Right. I mean, they’re really good doers. But maybe when it comes to managing people, not so much.

    Rachel: Right. But these are different skills sets. I think that it’s really important not only to identify those skill sets, but then also when you have people who could or would make good managers, to really foster that and train them and equip them so that they’re amazing managers and not just driving the billable hours.

    John: Yeah, absolutely. No, I agree. I agree. There’s a list to that he has here of some of the traits of managers they have that can cripple organizations. Yeah, I mean, it’s a fantastic list. Number two is micromanaging. That might be my number one pet peeve. That should be all of them. If you treat me like a five year old, then I’m going to be a five year old. Because I mean if you give me a project and you say I need this work done by this date, then leave me alone. I’ll get it done. If I have a question, I’ll come to you. You don’t need to hover. You start hovering, you start looking over my shoulder, then I’m going to bring up ESPN’s website every time you walk by. You’re going to lose your mind because you’re going to think all I’m doing is reading about sports.

    Rachel: It sounds like you’re speaking from personal experience, huh?

    John: It may or may not have happened. The statute of limitations is almost over so then I could speak more freely.

    Rachel: For me, it was really the lack of empowerment. Actually, I’ve had jobs before where there was a certain expectation on me to accomplish certain things. But then, I didn’t have the authority to make decisions surrounding the expectation as well as the responsibility to actually complete it. We’d get to performance review time. It’s like, “Well, you didn’t do all these things.” I’m like, “Because it was physically impossible for me to do those things within this organization.”

    John: Right. No, I hear you. Yeah, where the expectations are just unrealistic or they don’t give you the authority to do what you’re supposed to do. Yeah, that’s beyond frustrating. There’s a list of several of these taking credit for other people’s work like, “Oh, my gosh, poor career development, not setting realistic goals and expectations, being close-minded, abusive and emotionally unpredictable, for sure plays favourites. Oh, my goodness.” But then he goes to talk about how to weed out the worst ones. If any of those hit home, maybe it’s you or it’s somebody you work for, you can check out the article at greenapplepodcast.com to read the whole thing. But some good tips on how to go about talking to the people that might be pretty big offenders, I guess, if you will.

    Rachel: Yeah. They’re really great tips not only to recognize somebody’s behaviours, but then he does give, “Okay, so now that you’ve seen that, now what? What are you going to do now?” I thought it was actually really thorough without being overly heavy. I felt that it really touched on a lot of great points.

    John: Yeah.

    Rachel: Do you know what? If you do read this article and you do see, “Oh, crap. That is me,” then at least you recognize it. You can maybe do something to change it. That’s not all bad either, right?

    John: Right, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean the amazing step that I saw was over 60% of first time managers fail within two years. That’s on the organizations.

    Rachel: Yeah, that’s an equipping problem. That may not be a skill problem. If you’re going through managers that quickly, then you’ve got to have to think what your either culture is or organization or your HR, whatever it is, your professional development or your training, that’s actually not supporting these people and fix that too.

    John: Right, right. Yeah. Again, check out the article at greenapplepodcast.com. Follow us on Twitter @GreenApplePod is the show or Rachel’s @FischBooks and I’m @RecoveringCPA. Don’t forget to hit subscribe. Maybe if you liked the show, leave a review on iTunes or whatever android app you’re using. I hope everyone has a great week. Enjoy being home, Rachel.

    Rachel: Yeah, thanks. Talk to you later.

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