Odd Things that Sometimes Happen When We Promote Someone

Most all of our managers in the company are promoted from within - this means that they started as a "camp host" with us, collecting fees and keeping the park and especially the bathrooms clean. One of the great joys I have found in business is finding someone with the talent and energy that deserves promotion. Many of the people we hire are retired, and a stunning percentage of my employees are over 70 -- I even have a few in their nineties! In several cases we have found folks over 65 who have never had a management job in their working career, or maybe never have worked out of the home before, who have made fabulous managers for us.

However, once in a while, something strange happens. We take a dedicated, customer-focused, friendly and sensitive employee, give them a manager title, and they become a monster. Something about the title, or rather their perception of the title, turns them into der fuhrer, barking orders at everyone, treating customers with disdain, etc. One of the classic lines I have heard quoted back to me intwo or three of these instances is "this is my campground, and I make the rules here". This line is usually stated at about the same time a customer or employee is being treated shabbily.

Of course, it is not their campground. In fact, since we operate facilities on public lands, it is not even the company's campground. In the end, in these two or three cases, the employees have left or were eventually terminated.

In response, we've beefed up our training and tried to better set expectation for managers, but we still have this problem once in a while. I wonder if it is a generational thing, as older employees whose business experience began in the 50's and 60's are channeling an outdated view of leadership. Anyway, it sure is frustrating.