Don’t Make this Mistake!

October 31, 2011

Years ago when I was in the quality field, I remember a saying of one of the quality gurus.  He basically stated that all firings are the fault of management.  I initially scoffed at that idea, but over the years have come to agree in the main with his statement.  I don’t quite believe that ALL firings are the fault of management, but I now believe that most of them are caused by leadership (or lack of).A personal example.  Year ago, I was the commander of an Army Reserve unit in Texas of about 230 soldiers.  We had a great deal of heavy equipment so one of our largest platoons was the maintenance platoon.  This platoon was critical to the overall unit, but was not performing well and one reason was the platoon sergeant.  He simply was not leading well and his lieutenant was constantly coming to me to relieve the sergeant of his position.

The way of the shepherd book cover

I finally gave in and was about to start the process, when an older warrant officer (warrant officers are technical specialists) came to me and said, “Boss, I have an idea for you before you move ahead with this”.  Fortunately I listened.  Since we had so much heavy equipment, we often had to coordinate with the state for special permits for the movement of our equipment as well as arrange for special civilian trucks to move the equipment.  To do this we had a Transportation Coordinator position in our headquarters detachment.  So, we moved this sergeant into this position.

Bottom line – the sergeant excelled in this position and improved the performance of the unit.  I had almost derailed the Army Reserve career of a man simply because I did not know my people well enough.  Fortunately, I had someone on my staff that saw the potential in this man and who had the courage to intervene.  The sergeant was not a good leader of people, but was a great individual contributor.  He was simply in the wrong “seat on the bus”, but he definitely belonged on the bus!

So – do you know your people?  If you have read my blog in the past, you know that one of my favorite books is The Way of the Shepherd and two of its principles are:

Know the condition of your flock and

Know the S.H.A.P.E. of your flock.

Don’t make the mistake I almost did and derail a man’s career – get to know your people!

Have a great week!
BG