Sage Advice for Dealing with Management Turnover

Senior and middle managers leave organizations for many reasons: poor performance, management or board conflicts, retirement, health issues, new opportunities, etc.  The euphoria or disappointment felt by employees soon gives way to uncertainty and anxiety regarding the manager’s replacement if s/he is brought in from another organization. Change can be scary, especially given the unknown of the newcomer’s personality and agenda.

That’s why it’s important to remember the words spoken by the wise knight in Indiana Jones’  The Last Crusade: “choose wisely.”

If you’re in a position to select a manager’s replacement, consider the type of manager recommended by thought leader and academic Henry Mintzberg in his classic (1999) article “Managing Quietly.” He describes managers that:

  • Inspire rather than empower their people by creating a culture with “conditions that foster openness and release energy” so that “empowerment is taken for granted.”
  • Care for their organizations by spending more time “preventing problems than fixing them, because they know enough to know when and how to intervene.”
  • Infuse change so that it “seeps in slowly, steadily, profoundly” instead of dramatically so “everyone takes responsibility for making sure that serious changes take hold.”

For executives and search committees tasked with filling managers’ positions, you don’t want it said that you “chose poorly.”