Nick's Notes

Moving people on

Last week we ran a story in the Daily Intelligence email to our clients about a CIO who was involved in the transformation of his business. He said the hardest thing was to “let go” people who had served the company well but for one reason or another he didn’t think they could make a contribution to the change underway nor the new configuration.

In sport there is some similarity with this, the new season of F1 kicked off in Melbourne last weekend with McLaren replacing former world champion Jenson Button with 24 year old Belgium rookie Stoffel Vandoorne. New boss Zak Brown wanting to assert his authority having taken over the reins last year.

Being ruthless as a leader appears to be necessary to have the best team around you. But what responsibility do the team have around you to ensure that in any such restructure they are selected rather than exited? I think there are three key characteristics:

1) Continuing fascination with change – whatever you do, when you no longer seek to improve or change what that is, your value starts to wain. This may also become true when circumstances change, requiring a different approach. You become less valuable, imperceptibly at first, but eventually very noticeably. Whenever comments are made about a person being really good at their job but no more than that you know that they are on the way out. It may take a time but is is inevitable.

2) Being High Energy is essential – however you do things in today’s world it is crucial to demonstrate energy. What is energy? It’s partly enthusiasm, partly interest and partly activity. Do things quickly, well and with excitement and you will be seen to have high energy. High energy people are good to have around, they seem to raise the spirits by being involved. The opposite is true with low energy people – even if by most measures they are good at their job; and

3) Demonstrably learning is crucial – always looking to extend your knowledge or capabilities, not just with the things you do but more widely and bringing those things to the workplace to make suggestions and support new things even when outside your immediate sphere of activities. Care is needed not to be seen as interfering, but to be contributing.

I sat on a Board as a non-executive director where the Chief Executive believed that changing people who had helped the business get to it current point but may not be able to take it further was a key skill of his. He moved things on successfully on more that one occasion in that fashion. He was respected in the business and well liked. But circumstances changed, and he didn’t and he left the business. No one is immune.

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