My Problem is That I am Too Nice

Beverly FlaxingtonBeverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

I’ve been through several excellent management training courses and seminars during my 25+-year career serving the advisory profession. But I always walk away with the feeling that I’m too nice. I co-founded my advisory firm and we’ve grown it to just under 30 people. My original partner retired about three years ago, and I have three junior advisors who work with and support me. I hope one of them will be my successor when I retire in another 12-15 years.

The issue is when I have under-performing team members in different functions. For example, our head of operations is a lovely person. She takes care of her elderly parents and her aunt, and she is a single mom who raised four children on her own. She knows her job and does it better than I could ask – when she shows up.

In the last month, she has missed 14 days of work (and not remote work, being totally off the grid and unavailable). I know it was because of doctor appointments and her father taking a fall, but it disrupted our back office considerably.

I have a guy at the front desk who answers the phones and greets clients. We have many in-office meetings. Several times a week, we have people coming in. He refuses to get out from behind the desk to shake their hands, ask them what they’d like to drink and get them situated. He’ll wait until one of us (the advisors) comes out, and we have to do it. He tells me he will never get ahead in his career if he is known as the coffee-runner, yet this was a clear and explicit part of the job when we hired him. His background is that he was in foster care for many years, put himself through school and suffers from an inferiority complex. I get it, so I don’t like to push him.