This past couple of weeks it has been the hoary old issue of the business growing away from the abilities of certain members of the management team and we discussed them at length in the monthly group meeting.
It is a subject fraught with indecision and emotion, always difficult to resolve unless the leader is the ruthless, decisive type with a low compassion level.
In many years of being involved with Managing Directors and Chief Executives I have to say that I have yet to meet one with those characteristics (fortunately).
In the main your average leader (if there is such an animal) is outwardly confident, articulate, assertive, self-reliant and all the other good things. Underneath, however, they can often be a quivering mass of doubt and insecurity.
This is not to be critical of them; rather it demonstrates their inherent humanity without which there would be no chance of building a team of like minded people.
So what to do when the light dawns that a loyal, long standing member of the team is showing that they can no longer keep up with new ideas, new methods and change in general?
It’s the classic case of someone who joins in a start up right at the beginning, puts in long hours and demonstrates total dedication to assist the leader to build the business,
Often, promotion follows and they can finish up on the Board, running departments and generally still at the heart of the business.
And then what happens? The company is now flush with new, perhaps younger, members of the new team, all with the enthusiasm of a bonded team driving the business forward.
And then, in the background, the old stager sits, head shaking and loud tutting going on, with all the old clichés of “it wouldn’t work – we’ve done it before – you wouldn’t understand – you don’t know enough about the customers or the industry” and so on and so on.
It sucks all the energy out of a meeting and can reduce it to a discussion of minor trivialities which contributes nothing.
The great leaders manage to combine kindness and compassion with good judgement and the ability to be decisive when it is needed.
Situations like this invariably demand judgement and decisiveness first, later to be tempered with kindness and compassion. Long term loyalty and acceptable performance has contributed to the success of the business and that must never be forgotten.
It is always possible, of course, to help the team member with re-training or counselling. However, it must never be an excuse for inaction and these are many ways to smooth the path for exit which must be well planned in advance.
In the short run, however, it’s JFDI time again.