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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Disillusioned, Part 2

Dear Sue: The answer to your question- "Why do companies eliminate good managers with no apparent regard for loyalty," is directly related to today's "shareholder value" focus in running publicly held businesses.

Our society has become fixated on the wealth of CEO's of major companies who become superstars if they can produce profit growth at a faster rate than their peer group of companies. This drives many changes in management behavior, including the way managers are treated when something doesn't go right.

In large businesses today, the sequence of events may go something like this:

The CEO promises the stock analysts high growth, so the CEO puts tremendous pressure on the operating managers to deliver the promised results. The managers must demonstrate that they are tough enough to deliver the results. If anything goes wrong, they must demonstrate that they are committed to fixing it.

The result; when things go wrong someone has to pay, so that the general manager and his or her team can show the CEO how committed they are to getting the desired results. Out goes loyalty ... or any other consideration.

The unfortunate truth is that the manager who takes the fall rarely is the manager at fault. He or she is more likely to be the unlucky person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Problems such as major product problems, negative financial trends and negative customer perceptions often are traceable to bad decision making that occurred years earlier. However, since the manager who is at fault is long gone, or still there, but at a very senior level, the "fall guy" gets the ax.

As long as a CEO can stand up at the next analyst meeting and convince everyone that the problem has been resolved, then the analysts are happy and the stock goes up. The personal loss of employees is irrelevant. John S.

Sue Says: You portray a rather interesting, but sad scenario of business today. I received a number of other explanations -- read on for more:

Dear Sue: From my own experience starting and growing a medium sized company, I can tell you it is very difficult to find level headed proven leaders who have the respect of all of their coworkers. When I do find such a staff member, I sure don't fire them. When I do fire a staff member I always have a very good reason.

There are three main reasons a company would throw out a strong leader without any consideration for loyalty:

  1. 1. The strong leader is leading in a direction away from the company's goals. 
  2. The strong leader has other faults that affect performance.
  3. The decision-maker who fired the person made a poor decision due to panic or inexperience.

Although the reason why this strong leader was fired wasn't clear to "Disillusioned", in today's tight labor market good companies do not fire people without good reasons. 

- Dan

Dear Sue: I highly regard the people I work for. However, I am well aware of the fact that there are people who will do anything to get ahead. Too many times I've seen people fall out of favor with their boss because they weren't willing to do any and everything to get ahead. Those who acted as "gophers" for the executive branch were the ones moved into executive positions.

When you look beyond the scope of the job and see what is going on behind the scenes, you will soon know who does the best job of catering to the bosses. This often is the way some selected people make it to the top. In almost all of the cases I am aware of, the skills and experience necessary to hold a management position ended up being irrelevant. 

- Dave

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

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