Dear Aunty B,
We just had our last board meeting of the year. I expected it to be a pleasant enough affair – we’ve had a pretty reasonable year – but ended up being a disaster.
Three directors who hold minority stakes basically ganged up on the chairperson and I, telling me that unless the company’s growth rate doubles in the next 12 months, I will be out of a job.
I pleaded my case – basically saying that growth means increasing costs, something I don’t think is wise in this economy. I was shouted down.
Afterwards, I confronted my chairperson, but it appears he was blindsided too. We have been working to a very deliberate plan that the board has approved, reviewed and approved again.
I don’t know where this has come from. I guess the directors have become impatient to see their stakes get bigger.
How can I convince them that my plan is the sensible one?
The question isn’t how “I” can convince them to follow your plan, it’s how “we” can convince them – you are going to need your chairperson’s help here.
If he hasn’t already, he should be on the phone talking to the directors and finding out what their concerns or problems are. The chairperson is running the board and he should be ensuring that everyone is on the same page, which they clearly are not.
If you need to have another meeting before Christmas to get this all straightened out – and I think you do – then the chair should set up a time.
In the meantime, you should work on a new plan that would deliver the growth that they want. I know this will go against your instincts, but what you want to be able to do is use this plan to show why your strategy is right.
That is, you want to do a, b and c, we will face risks such as x, y and z. Explain it all carefully at the special board meeting and try and find a compromise position that everyone agrees on.
If you don’t get harmony here, it will not end well, so work quickly.
Your Aunty B
Aunty B is currently on holidays sailing the South Pacific and sipping piña coladas, but she will be back soon with fresh advice for your business. This classic Aunty B was first published December 3, 2012.