A friend, who owns a mid-size, small business, asked me to meet with a member of his team. My friend wanted my advice on whether I believed this individual could fulfill his responsibilities, and if not could I help? The company had promoted the employee into a management position overseeing a dozen or so people. He had been put in charge of a division of the company and so far, hadn’t risen to the occasion. I would soon learn the promotion came close to being a disastrous personnel mistake.

I met with the new manager a couple of times over coffee. After the first meeting, I let my friend, the business owner, know that I wasn’t sure if I could help, but there were a couple of areas I could focus on. It would be up to the new manager as to whether he applied my advice and acted. It was up to him to prove his promotion wasn’t a personnel mistake.

Unfixable Problems

One of his problems was procrastination, which people often think of as time management. Procrastination adversely affects time management but isn’t a time management fix; it’s a thought process problem. I gave (let’s call him John Doe) several actions he could take to help with his procrastination including the gumption factor, which is tackling the most difficult, least desirable action at the beginning of the day.

I also shared strategies with him on communication, organization, and motivation. Although he seemed interested and sincere, little changed. I soon learned I was wasting my time. He should never have been put in the position. Promoting him was a personnel mistake.

Know Your Players

Last week my friend called me. John Doe was no longer in the position. He was no longer employed by the company. He had been incarcerated. It was a lesson for my friend and any business owner. Know whom you’re putting in an upper management position.

Background Checks Should be Rechecked

My friend’s company completed criminal background and driver’s license checks on all new employment candidates but didn’t run backgrounds on existing employees considered for promotion.

Before promoting an employee into a leadership role that can affect the company’s bottom line, who has direct access to company funds, and influences employees, an updated background check should be completed. In this case, all three checks bulleted below would’ve waved red flags.

  • Criminal Background
  • Driver’s License
  • Credit History

The employee, who drove to job sites on company time, hadn’t had a valid driver’s license for more than three years. He also had a bench warrant for failure to appear, and he didn’t pay his bills. John Doe’s pay was being garnished, but the payroll clerk never told my friend, the owner of the business. It was a recipe for disaster. The company could have been liable had John Doe been involved in an accident on company time. Also, when someone is financially desperate who knows what they’ll do? I once had a customer service representative steal credit card information from customers.

The bottom line is before putting someone in an upper echelon leadership role three checks should be completed, criminal background, driver’s license, and credit history. It could save you a lot of pain down the road.

How Can I help? 

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a  management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course im effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program.