Dear Aunty B,
We have struggled our way through the GFC and things are looking so bright – my company is about to embark on its next growth phase. I have reshuffled my leadership team and brought in some new blood, as I know the future of what we are doing really rests with these people.
But I am having second thoughts about a key player who seems very focused on his own career rather than the business. He is very driven and a good performer. But he just doesn’t fit our culture, though in no easily defined way.
People are uneasy around him and he is a poor motivator, although he can manage okay and he gets results. I know you can’t come out and give him the once over but have you got any advice for me about how I can change him so he fits our culture better? And is the feeling of unease enough to justify moving him on?
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You are perfectly correct: this is a crucial element to get right. There is no use having a loose end in your key management team, as it will prey on your mind.
And let me tell you the joys of getting that key leadership team right! Instead of waking up at 3am with that pit in your stomach, you go to bed at night with a serene feeling that everything is under control.
Right people in key seats is Jim Collins territory. I looked up his latest book How the Mighty Fall in which he spends a lot of time defending the fact that he used companies like Fannie May as glowing case studies in previous books.
However it doesn’t detract from his insights into what makes companies great.
Number one on getting the right people in key seats is this: the right people fit with the company’s core values. Sounds cheesy but I think that hits the nail on the head when you say he doesn’t fit the culture. Yes it is hard to put your finger on it. But does it matter? Absolutely.
As Collins points out: great companies built cult like cultures where people who don’t share the company’s values find themselves surrounded by antibodies.
Can you change someone who doesn’t share your core values? Jim says: “You don’t. You hire people who already have a predisposition to your core values and hang onto them. And remember that other gem? Get the right people on the bus and then figure out where to drive the bus. It’s a who and then a what mentality.
Now I think that’s a bit exaggerated. You need to have some idea where you are going to even have a stab at the who.
So in a nutshell, you sound like you have a great vision, know what you are doing (and many have no idea, so well done on that front).
Now you need to act on that gut instinct. I would imagine with the rest of the team intact it might be easier than you think to find the right person.
Your Aunty B
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