Q. My subordinate made a $2 million miscalculation on a proposal. Of course, the client accepted the proposal and we’re stuck. My boss thinks this is my failure to manage the subordinate properly. I think we should approach the client and explain it was a mistake and renegotiate. My boss says it’s entirely up to me to correct the mistake. I think I should fire my subordinate. What do you think?
A. If your sub does a good job ordinarily I wouldn’t fire him. This really is your problem. Don’t you remember Harry Truman’s, “The buck stops here?” If you value your rep in the office, stop dodging and solve the problem. Otherwise you may lose the business! If that happens your job is to find profitable work with different clients. An honest, humble approach to the client is worth a try. If you have a long-term relationship with the client it should be important to both of you to work this out. In the meantime it would be good to talk to your subordinate about checking with you before the final document goes out. See Robert Townsend in Up the Organization, a book full of wisdom you need. He also agrees with Harry. Consider that the time you spend training your subordinate, giving feedback, and correcting performance is as important to you as it is to him or her.
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