Drill Sargent Manager – Recently, I started a new turnaround consulting engagement. My client is an off-road vehicle supply company. The company manufactures, sells, and installs off-road products such as lift kits, winches, leveling kits, etc. on jeeps, trucks and SUVs. Their products and services make a normal pick-up truck into a “Mean Machine that can crawl up a mountain!”
When I started this or any new turnaround engagement, I first interview each member of the management team. My initial one-on-one meeting was with the service manager who is in charge of the all the mechanics and “tire busters.” The tire busters are the guys who only work with the tires and wheels for the vehicles. He’s responsible for managing the techs and their production in the shop building the Mean Machines. This guy recently retired from the military, and it was easy to tell. He’s big, loud, and intimidating.
A military style of management many times does not work with Millennials.
The group of techs whom he supervises are between the ages of 23 and 35 years old. Many people know by now, supervising “Millennials” is a difficult group to manage. I believe it takes an exceptional manager to supervise these young men and be successful. The “military type” service manager treated the Millennials like army privates, and he was the “Drill Sargent” manager. As a result, it did not work, not even a little.
Being a “Drill Sargent” Manager supervising Millennials is not easy, more like impossible!
One morning, I witnessed the “Drill Sargent” walk up behind one of the techs who was working on a vehicle. He stood inches away behind the employee and screamed at him as loud as he could. The young technician was not wearing his protective eyeglasses as required. I saw the look on the tech’s face when this happened. He was scared to death of his boss. The tech was wrong and should have been wearing his safety eyeglasses. But screaming at him was not the best way to correct the problem. Most noteworthy, the mechanic was scared, but all the other techs were mad at the manager for the yelling.
Because these types of incidents occurred regularly, I could see that the attitude of everyone changing. The shop culture rapidly turned negative and the production declined. When this happened, it was the beginning of the end for that manager! As a result, the Drill Sargent had to be replaced!
Screaming at employees never produces good results!
The owner had to react to this problem immediately, or there would have been massive turnover in the shop. I have seen in many of my former clients, one person in a company can change the whole culture of a company. The culture change can either be good or bad. So, when and if the change is bad, quick decisions are required.
Employee turnover in any company is a huge problem, especially with this company that was already struggling. Therefore, the decision had to be made immediately to terminate the Drill Sargent.
The owners terminated the Drill Sargent and promoted a young man with a materially different management style. He treated the employees in the department with respect and using excellent communication skills. He was 30 years old with a friendly personality. The group of technicians was happy with the change. The owners were concerned about his product knowledge was not ideal for the position. I felt that he would grow into the job because of his personality worked well with the people who he was managing.
As the Owner, when you have a bad manager, you need to make the touch decisions quickly. If you don’t, you are going to experience employee turnover.
I later learned that there was a group of technicians who intentionally slowed down their work so the Drill Sargent would get fired. The whole management team learned a valuable lesson when they heard about the deliberate production slowdown. In the first month and a half after the management change, production improved by forty percent under the new manager’s supervision.
The owner of the company learned a lot about his business during the past three months.
- First – You cannot have a weak manager overseeing the service department.
- Second – You cannot have a “Drill Sargent” type of manager supervising a group of “Millennials” and have a successful department.
- Third – You cannot procrastinate from making a tough decision when you have a terrible fit of a manager supervising a production department. If you do not decide to change a manager when he or she is the wrong person to do the job, there will be employee turnover, especially with your quality employees.
My name is Robert Curry, and I am an Author, CEO Coach, Keynote Speaker, and Turnaround Specialist. Over the past 20 years, I have worked with more than 70 companies taking their businesses from Loses to Profits. Please click on the links below to read some my other articles like Drill Sargent type of Manager!
Recently, I published two books about turnarounds: “From Red to Black – A Business Turnaround” and “The Turnaround.” Both books are true stories about the turnarounds of real companies that I have turned around during my career. In both books, I shared all my Profit Improvement Recommendations (“PIR’s”). PIR’s help to grow sales, reduce expenses, improve cash flow, and most noteworthy, strengthen the management teams.