Dear Aunty B,
Could you please give me some advice? I founded a company two years ago and am in the process of raising a second round of funding. My board has just insisted on putting in a general manager under me and now the new GM is trying to shaft me.
I just got a second bollocking from my board in two months. I am sure they are going to sack me and appoint the GM in my place. The guy is a pretender and I just found out he got sacked from his previous job.
Should I tell the board? We are behind budget, but for a start-up in our industry we are going really well.
What should I do? This is my company and I am still the best person to run it.
Look, it is CEO culling season and you could well be in the firing line, especially as the board has insisted on the GM. But on the other hand you could just be paranoid.
When the board wants to sack you they don’t give you a bollocking. They actually stop yelling and act funny when you walk into a room because you just interrupted the conversation about your next replacement.
This is the time to play a bit of politics in a good way. You must have some mates on the board. Suggest a coffee and then open up. You are obviously young, so play to their superior knowledge. Ask them directly what is happening? What are the concerns? What is the board looking for in these difficult times? Listen very carefully and don’t get defensive and arrogant. Try and meet with them regularly so they update you on the board’s concerns.
The times we are in are completely different and the board knows this. Do you? Can you make tough decisions? What are your biggest problems? Sales team? Restructure. Strategy? Work on it. Marketing? Where is your plan? Take action and keep your costs as low as possible.
You must work with your GM. Can he be brought up to speed? If you have specific concerns about him, then raise those with the board. But don’t get paranoid or bitchy.
This is a time to stay cool and be very professional.
And remember, pretenders always get found out.
Your Aunty B.