This weekly club meeting talks about stress that CEOs and Executive Directors feel when employees don’t do the right things at the right times and life gets difficult. Perfectly happy Directors and Presidents are not eligible for membership. This week, I want to deal with the stress of the 18-36 month window.
When you first take the CEO job, you have to rehire all of the people who report directly to you. Perhaps you assumed that they are good sheep and will simply change to a new head sheep?
Someone who now reports to you isn’t confident and you make them nervous. Someone else wanted the job that you have. Someone else has been cutting corners (with time and attendance, expense account, etc) with the last boss and wonders how to test your tolerance. And so on. You thought it was a greener pasture, but all greener pastures have manure!
Meet with each direct report and help them show their best side to you. Recognize their talents, skills, values and passion. Meet together as a team and give staff an idea of your most important values. My own personal values include:
- I don’t hire assistants. I hire people smarter than I am who own their part of the company – In your area, take responsibility and authority and bring me solutions as well as problems.
- Be a continuous learner. I expect to offer more skills to my job one year from now. I expect you to offer more one year from now. I read one book a week. What is your goal?
- I pay 75 percentile for your position. I think that great managers need to be compensated so they don’t worry about job and home. I pay for professional development. I offer flex time and remote work where possible. I respect your valuable contribution to this company.
- I only want people in this company that you would enthusiastically rehire. Does anyone need more attention on your team? Does anyone need to transition? Those will be my questions.
The result of the rehiring – people feel respect for who they are and what they have accomplished and they have a clear idea on how to work with you. In most cases, this is a great start.
Research shows that effective CEOs will need a 50% change in leadership team in the 18-36 month range. The management mix requires a team that can be effective under your leadership. In some cases, the reporting managers also see this and create their own retirements and resignations. This is not a sign of poor leadership as long as the revolving door stops within 24 months. It’s what is needed to take the organization to the next level.
The review period is where you set up a job scorecard for each position with the help of the leadership team. The process is necessary but it will point out some managers who are not in the right seat or not a match for the next phase of the company.
The discernment process is a time where you meet with some direct report about needed changes that may bring about transition. It’s also a time to see if you have followed the Rehire and Review process.
Failure to rehire can cause leadership challenges in the first 12 months.
Failure to retire people that you do not enthusiastically want will cause problems in year 2. According to the Rockefeller Habits Question 1, you need a leadership team that understands each other’s differences, priorities, and styles and a team that is able to engage in constructive debate. And you need team members who function flawlessly so that you are leading instead of repairing problems. Here are 3 Repair Steps.
- It is never too late to say to a direct report ‘I apologize for the awkward start to our relationship and I’d like to hear more about your talents and interests as we continue to create the team.’ No one is perfect and you are opening the rehiring question and giving them respect and a chance to join your team.
- It is never too late to state your values and apologize if anyone is surprised.
- It is never too late to start a repair or termination that you delayed out of fear or misplaced sympathy. I hate to fire people – until they start making me do or fix their work, or until they start to create trouble on the team.
CEOs can let problems slide, but my Personnel Consultant always said, you can’t cure cancer with aspirin.
- They’ve worked here for 15 years.
- I respect that but the company is growing and changing and needs staff who empower that change. Can they change? I’ll help.
- They probably can’t get a parallel job with their training.
- That is a choice that they made when they decided not to keep learning. It’s tragic, but respect their choice.
- They have a lot of friends on the staff team.
- Very likely, but employees protect their own job first. There may be muttering but none of us are as popular at work as we hoped 😊
The CEO job is challenging. A business coach can help and contact me if you need support to go through this process. But with or without support, most Executive Directors inherit leadership teams with issues. The issues can be managed – and the Board was wise enough to hire you to do it.
Rehire, Review, Repair.
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