What would you do?

Who would you rather have reporting to you? A manager who works well with people but doesn’t know the business thoroughly because they’re new to it, or a manager who knows the business better than anyone but is not a good people manager?

Crystin feels like she’s between a rock and a hard place. Her direct report (Jim) knows the business inside out and backwards. She depends on him because he has more knowledge and experience in that regard. He’s been with the company for 30 years and is known in the industry. But Jim has a fiery temper. He gets loud when something goes wrong and thinks nothing of berating employees in front of others. Jim learned to manage this way while working for the former leader, who also tore people apart with his words, loud and clear for all to hear.

A couple of years ago, Crystin was promoted into her leadership role, with Jim and others reporting to her. She relies on Jim for his industry and company knowledge, but it drives her crazy that he gets so hot with people in the company when things don’t go as expected. She has talked with him many times about it. He improves for a while, then slides back into this behavior. He doesn’t yell at her because he knows she won’t tolerate it.

If you were in Crystin’s situation, would you keep Jim because of his industry and company knowledge and work on getting him to change his hot temper behaviors? Or, would you try to find a replacement with better people managing skills, even if they don’t know the business like Jim knows it? It will take a significant amount of Crystin’s time either way. (No one in the company has what Crystin wants in a replacement.)

It’s not a simple decision because the company must continue to produce at capacity, and Crystin hates the thought of rocking the boat.

What would you do?

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