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Forced into a no-win situation


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I appreciate this may be a little complex, so I will try and be clear. The first paragraphs are background, skip to the :?: for the issue.

 

I am Sales and Marketing senior manager for a business, with 8 outlets. I am responsible for all sales and marketing activity and measured by sales performance (revenue).

 

Each outlet has a manager, and they are responsible for the day to day operation of the unit, and measured against the profit.

 

This structure is a little unique in our industry, where usually the unit manager has control of local sales and marketing, and would be measured against both sales and profit, and my role would be a head office support role. So in effect I have more control than usual and the unit manager has less control than the norm. The unit manager and I are on the same rung in the hierarchy, reporting into the MD.

 

One of the units was added two years ago, and was an underperforming unit. We knew it wasn't a great business when we bought it, but the plan was to invest in it, and turn it around. But we were having to undo many years of neglect and poor management. The unit manager joined when we bought the business - we'll call him P.

 

P and I have had a rocky relationship, and he doesn't agree with our business structure, wanting to have more control over his unit. This has caused us to lock horns on a number of occasions. I have backed off a little of recent, as I was worried I was becoming seen as a 'problem'. Recently our relationship has been better, but only because we avoid discussing anything controversial.

 

P's unit has had major investment, but business is slow to turn round. And last year was pretty poor. We are battling with a long standing poor reputation, and the service levels are still very poor and there is no real change forthcoming. Until these improve, I am restricted with how much more revenue I can generate.

 

:?::?:

 

The MD is off sick long term, so the CEO has become more involved in the day to day business. - having not been very close to what is happening for a number of years). I have been asked to attend a meeting tomorrow, along with P and another senior manager, the purpose is to explain the poor performance and how we can turn it round. This is where my challenge arises. At this meeting, I will have effectively two options, accept that the performance is not good enough (I.e. I am not doing my job - not that I believe this is true); or pass the blame to P and the continued poor service (I can prove this as we use a 3rd party monitoring service - which I administrate), but this will enviably be the final nail in our poor relationship, and likely leave me unable to perform my role in the long term. Either way. I really feel like I will end up on rocky ground and my career in jepordy. The stress of this meeting is making me sick. Part of me just wants to walk away from the whole thing, but can't really give up the salary or company car without knowing I have some certainty of another role. Roles at my level are limited, so I can't just walk into a job, and would likely have to take a lower paid and lower seniority role.

 

Help!!

Any advise that is given, is from my experience, either in life in general or from my years of senior management in the hospitality and leisure industries. However, please take legal advise before taking any actions.

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Do you have seniority over P?

 

If yes, then you will have to take the approach that you are not there to be nice, but to be effective. If you can demonstrate that part of the problem is P then you must say so. You can be diplomatic about this - up to a point - but ultimately you have to demonstrate that you have the strength of character to bring P around to your way of thinking as the status quo is clearly not an option. Recognise P's strengths (if you can see any) but make it clear that performance management must be driven from the top down and if you have the more senior position then he can either work with you.....or be managed appropriately.

 

Make sure that you have a viable business plan in place which WILL turn the unit around and stress that having tried P's way of working it is clearly not an option any longer. Nothing wrong with saying that you have until now allowed P a degree of flexibility in recognition of his experience, but that for the good of the business changes must be made.

 

You have to show that you are capable of taking a strong stance irrespective of any effect that this might have on your relationships.

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.

 

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The problem should be clear to the CEO as it was always thus and your other outlets are fliying high. I suspect that the problem is that P wasnt let go at the very outset and now it is difficult to make a decision as they will claim that nothing has changed and therefore unfair to sack them now. New realistic targets need to be set and stuck to but support is also needed for all of the staff so they understand what is being done and why.

I sympathise with your position, change is always hard

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