How can I communicate to my direct that his behavior and actions harm the company, when a couple of years ago his actions saved the company?

My situation: I am a first time manager and I have been in this new job just over 4 weeks now. I am one week into doing O3s. There is a crisis building concerning one of my directs.

My direct has been with the company for 5 years. The company (16 full-time , 6 part-time employees) has seen some bad years. In his capacity as a service technician, he is in regular contact with clients and distributors. While the company was doing badly he took over some sales responsibilities, directly reporting to the CEO. He had quite a free hand in certain things. He is very open with the customers and very willing to share internal information, that should not be shared (e.g. client specific pricing structures), but by developing a market in a new region, he basically saved the company. 

Now the company is doing better and has employed a sales director and a technical manager (myself) to take over these responsibilities from the CEO, who wants to reduce his workload and set the company up for the future. My direct admitted to me that this change does not suit him, he wishes to keep acting as a sales representative for the region he helped to develop - he does not want any change. Unfortunately, he continues to act as he is used to, sending (often inappropriate) sales information to clients, which in the current situation of the company does more harm than good for the company and has actually cost the company money. I am told that there has been multiple conversations between him and our CEO, with the aim to stop his sales activities and to share all sales-relevant information with the new sales director, but without much success. My direct does not seem to understand the consequences of sharing inappropriate information with clients and distributors and does not see any harm in his actions. The direct has threatened to leave the company, which would be hard to take as he is a very good service technician and not easily replaced. Noone wants to lose him, also with respect to his efforts in saving the company.

I am to partake or lead the next conversation with him and I am asking the forum members whether anyone can give me some advice on how to handle this situation. I am out of my depth here.

From the short time I have been here, I would guess that the CEO is high D, maybe high D/C and the direct behaves like an S, but I am not 100% sure. 


egaskell's picture

I was really hoping that someone in the forum can share their experience with me. Even a "what not to do" in this situation would be greatly appreciated!

mike_bruns_99's picture
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Sounds like a tough situation:

Listen to the casts regarding how to handle a "non-promoted" direct.  My guess is that the direct really feels they should have been promoted into that Sales Director role.  

Playing devil's advocate:  asking the direct give-up their sales initiatives, after they stepped up, showed initiative and saved the company, is a big step backwards to them in their career.

I don't know your industry, but many companies have a real need for a "sales-engineer' role.  Someone with strong technical and problem-solving skills that can support the pre-sales process without being involved in the pricing and negotiation process.  Would that be a better fit for him and your company?

pucciot's picture
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He may be a high "S" and miss the relationships.

 I've been in a position where we lost a lot of staff and had to step up and take on other direct customer service roles for a time.  I got to travel and meet more folks - teach, etc... 

I really liked it, too !

A few years later we hired enough staff, but it was hard for me to give up working with the customers directly.  I liked the relationships and feeling of direct accomplishment I got.

My technical duties didn't seem as exciting anymore.

For a while I tried to do everything and get involved with all initiatives.

Until, my Exec. Director asked me to back off and let the new people do what we hired them for.

She said I can rest and take a break - that I was "too close" (emotionally) to those other activities and I needed to focus on my primary role and duties.

Then I got assigned to, and focused on, lots more projects related to my primary position.

I am glad that I now have the time and capacity to work on them.   Sure, I still miss the other stuff, but they can take care of that now

- I'm the only person here that can take care of - what I can take care of.

 My point is I recommend two things :

1 .Make him feel needed and that the whole team needs him - for the primary role that he has now.  That that is the best way to help the team

That if he doesn't step away he will be stunting the potential growth of the new staff members.  That he is hindering their place in the team.

Thank him for his participation in the past and assure him that he is still a valuable member of the team.

2 . Give him more projects that are appropriate to his position.  Make him so busy with his current role that he will start to find those other jobs seem like a nice memory, but now just a pain in the neck distracting to his real job.

Good Luck


egaskell's picture

I really appreciate both your comments.

Before the meeting with the direct, my boss and I were worried, that my direct would just resign on the spot, if we were to tell him to focus on his original role as a service technician and let the sales director focus on his role. However, I think the meeting went well, but I will have to wait until Monday to find out what parts of the information given in this meeting really stuck with my direct and how he chooses to continue.

I liked the idea of giving him the role of a sales engineer, however that role has already been filled in our company. 

Thank you, TJPuccio, for sharing your experience. It makes total sense to me and I will try to implement your idea, if our direct chooses to continue working with us.