Reshuffling the Deck

Published: June 3, 2013

She loved the company. The culture was an ideal fit with her natural enthusiasm and free-spirited personality. Autonomy was encouraged and rewarded. Compensation was competitive and there was plenty of room for growth. With a few notable exceptions, the majority of her co-workers shared the same level of engagement with their jobs. For the unhappy few, leaving was the only way to address the daily drain of the micro-managing supervisor whose oppressive behavior, for some reason, had remained below the radar of senior leadership.

As key talent accepted the offers of competitors, routine exit interviews unveiled a theme. Leaving was a difficult but necessary alternative to enduring the undermining effects of stifling management even though this supervisor was an aberration amongst otherwise empowering leadership. Soon, the undercurrent of dissatisfaction captured the attention of someone with decision authority in the organization. A small amount of investigation was all that was needed to diagnose the problem. The supervisor was not a bad human. He just lacked management skills.

Rearranging the organizational chart was relatively easy. Shifting reporting relationships enabled affected employees to be repositioned under a more mature and developed manager. It also permitted the less experienced manager to be placed under the mentorship of a seasoned leader known for her stewardship of the organization’s rich culture. If the young supervisor had the motivation and capacity to learn and grow, the opportunity would be ripe.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.