My Name is Chip

I work for you and I don’t like it.

We joined the company at the same time and worked in the same unit.  Everybody likes me and I am the best performer on our team.  I’m going to make a difference in this company.

But they made you the manager.  So you are technically my boss.  Even though more people like me and I am the best at what I do.

And now you are telling me how to do things.  I already know what’s best for my clients and me, so I am going to nod my head in our meetings and then keep doing it the way I have always done it.  The right way. My way.

And now you have a problem with that?  You schedule a meeting, without even asking me, in your office and when I get there you close the door.  All serious.

Then you ask me about a client project and why I did it the old way, my way.  Because I know best for my clients.  Why do I even need to answer to you?  I’m the most deserving and I was passed over…


Before Chip goes all Fredo Corleone and makes his case to Michael, let’s talk about how to manage someone like him.

Being promoted into a managerial slot from a group of people that you will then have to manage is pretty rough – and passive aggressive people like Chip make it that much harder.  Chip’s sense of entitlement, which he will call destiny, will prevent him from seeing the reality of the situation and at first might make it hard for him to support you.

So kill him with kindness.  In The Godfather, when Michael when says, “Fredo, you’re my brother and I love you.”  He is really saying, despite the fact that you resent my position and the power you feel I have over your life,  I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt for the good of the family.

When you’re dealing with Chip, make sure he knows how much you value his contribution to the team. Praise him in public at the team meetings, especially when he reluctantly gets on board for something new.  Hopefully, he will see you as someone who is on Team Chip and decide to return the favour and support you.  These small wins are huge in your career as a manager – when you give someone the chance to turn around and they take it.

What if he doesn’t and continues the small acts of defiance?  Better to address it quick behind closed doors before he calls Johnny Ola and Hyman Roth.  Give him a chance to vent his real reason for not getting on the bus.

Assuming it’s jealousy or immaturity is a mistake on your part.

Chip is a person and there may be personal stuff going on beyond “they promoted you and not me.”   If that’s all there is, we can all sympathize with being passed over and you should tell him that.  Give him examples of all the good things you have done together in the past and the great things to come and his importance to the team.  But at some point he has to suck it up and decide if he wants to continue doing things his own way or get over himself and enjoy the ride.

Make it clear this meeting is the first step in the disciplinary process and what the timetable is for seeing improvement and what that specific improvement should be.  This starts the clock ticking in his head – either how quickly he needs to change or what the latest date he has to find another job.

From this point on it’s a win for you as a manager either way.

  • Chip stays and is a team player and is grateful for your role in keeping him at the company, WIN!
  • Chip leaves on his own and takes his toxic attitude with him, WIN!
  • Chip stays and so does his attitude?  You’re covered and can move toward dismissal. WIN!

Every Chip you manage is an opportunity shine.

Anyone Can Be a Good Manager

That’s right, anyone.

It does not matter how much experience you have, your age, your level of education, your communication style or your personality.  You can be a good manager.

Because being a good manager is a process.  And this process has steps and concrete things you can learn and apply that are universal to managers everywhere, no matter the size of company or the country it’s located in or the industry it serves.

The process begins by MANAGING NOT DOING.  When you move from a “doing” job into your “managing” job it’s important to remember that the managing is the work, and your habits should reflect that.  Spend 50% of your time on your team – coaching, training, praising in public and working the big boss and the system to make sure they get the resources and the love they need.  But let them do the work.  You may have been the best sales person, CSR or accounting clerk before you were promoted, but now your success depends on their ability to perform.  Imagine what they can do with a superstar manager.

Your long term success as a manager depends entirely on the next part of the process, getting your team to KNOW, LIKE AND TRUST you.  This requires you to consistently be yourself – whether introverted or extroverted, numbers driven or big picture dreaming – so your staff can count on you being the same person every day. It matters less about who you are and more about being that person consistently and authentically.  Brooding and locked in your office on Monday and giving high fives and playing rock music on Tuesday will only confuse them.

While they are getting to KNOW you, you can get to know them by paying attention to them as individuals and listening to what they have to say.

People are hard wired to LIKE other people that are interested in who we are and what we care about – and all it takes is regular, careful listening.

The final component is TRUST  – hardest and longest to win and the easiest to lose.  You will be trusted if you do what you say you will do and deliver for your team and the team as individuals exactly as promised.  Great things have been accomplished on the backs of making sure someone has the exact colour post-its they feel they need for the job.

The final step in the process is living a managerial life dedicated to SERVANT LEADERSHIP.  You can always tell a bad manager because it’s always about them. In the meetings with the big boss they refer to themselves and not the team, they suck the oxygen out the room during meetings, deliver sermons from on high and assign themselves the key accounts and the high profile clients.  A good manager is about the team – first, last and always.

Time to stop doing.  Time to start the process and Become a Better Manager.

Nervous Knots for a New Manager – It’s All Good

In a post published today on his LinkedIn blog, Jack Welch wrote about feeling scared when you get promoted into your first managerial job. Unless you are in a job that is truly life and death – firefighter, soldier – I doubt that what you are feeling is fear.  At the same time, I have no doubt that whatever you are feeling is good for you.

I compare the feeling, which usually includes some sort of butterflies in the stomach and significantly heightened sense of sound, smell and touch, to the pre-game jitters most competitive athletes feel before a match or even the sweat down the back and dry mouth that show up when it’s time for a marriage proposal.

Why do these feelings and physical symptoms occur?  Two reasons:

  • We are highly invested in the outcome.  We want to win the game, or have our partner say “yes” or succeed at the new managerial job.  If there was no investment, there would be no physiological preparation by the body for the event about to happen.
  • The outcome is unknown.  You might not win the game.  There might not be a wedding in your future.  Your first project as manager might go sideways.

So the feelings are natural if you care about your job and the company you work for and the people you work with and the customers you serve.

As a new manager, the trick is to copy what the best athletes and marriage proposers and managers before you have done – focus on the process.  The athlete leans on their practice sessions, their game plan and trust in their team mates that they have your back and are working toward the same goal.  The person about to propose has already talked to the parents, picked a good time and place and has thought carefully about the words they want to say.  Once a minute they check to make sure that they have the ring in their pocket.

For you as a manager, focus on the stuff that got you promoted in the first place.  Trust your team, keep your office door and your mind open and be the guy who makes sure his team has everything they need to succeed.  Even though you are new, your team has been there done that, and will carry you through the first couple of projects happily if you make sure they have the tools, tech, time and food to succeed.  And after they do succeed, despite your newness, make sure they get one more thing – credit for the success with your boss and sincere praise from you in public in front of their peers.

And then even as you get things figured out and the butterflies disappear because the outcome is more certain in your mind, continue to use this model for the rest of your career.  Again from Jack’s piece:

Everyone knows that too much confidence can lead to arrogance and a kind of “that’s how we do it around here” inertia. The flip side is an insatiable hunger for new ideas and better ways to do things—a hunger that makes you fight like hell to win.

Keep fighting.


The Recipe for a Good Manager

I grew up in sports and follow many sports, especially baseball, golf and college basketball closely.  Each of those sports has its own recipe for success.  These recipes provide teams or competitors the best chance of winning, even without the best players or the most skill.

In baseball – pitching and defense.

In basketball – defense and free throws.

In golf – chipping and putting.

The manager’s recipe fort success has just 3 ingredients:

  1. Managing Not Doing
  2. Sell Yourself Using Know, Like and Trust
  3. Practice Servant Leadership

By mastering these 3 ingredients, the accidental manager can succeed in their role, regardless of their skills, personality type or lack of experience.