My Boss is PMSing (Putting More Stress) on the Leadership Team

My friend, a senior executive heading the US subsidiary of a foreign company, has sent  another post following up one he shared with Oak & Apple Partners about a year ago.  He’s  updating his assessment of his situation and especially his boss.  Read on!

About a year ago, I posted ( My Boss is an Idiot’)  and shared some insights and frustrations I had as a senior management team member and leader for an international company, which, after many years of success, is now struggling.  I concluded at the time that I should stay on board and execute to the best of my ability for the sake of the company, my sanity, and my own career development and success.  Here I am a year later working [almost] at the same capacity, for the same company and this same boss…. 

I thought a year later would be a good time to reflect back and to revisit this topic and share where the company and I are today.

Our company continued to struggle in 2013. In fact, our financial performance was our worst ever year! Of course, this was neither my boss’ intent nor the company’s plan for 2013.

With hindsight, my boss is now referring to 2013 as the “Year of Transition” and this year, 2014, as the “Year of Execution”.   Some senior managers already refer to 2014 as the “Year of Executions”, which unfortunately is a likely scenario in our company in 2014.

I cannot blame my CEO entirely for the company’s misfortunes; the dynamics of our industry and competitive landscape are out of his control and are currently not favorable.  To give him credit where credit is due, he made many changes last year in the organization; some of which were big positives with respect to people and processes. He also replaced about half  the executive team (I survived).  In addition, he initiated many cost cutting measures in the organization to help offset the burden of not meeting our revenue targets for the year.

In my view, where he failed (and continues to do so even more grievously today) is in the following areas:

1. Strategy– not recognizing that the company is not doing well for a reason [or maybe for a few reasons] and that we must revisit some of our assumptions, paradigms, markets, and  USPs. We must re-invent the company by identifying new growth areas, market segments and geographies to focus on. This will also require setting up the right expectations with the Board and with the Executive Team. It will be a lengthy and sometimes painful process, but there is no room for shortcuts! There is no magic that can overcome a shortfall in the Strategy being implemented.

2. Dynamics of the Team – instead of creating an open and collaborative environment for the team – one that encourages working together creatively on our challenges, my boss created an atmosphere of intimidation.  Trust me; you don’t want to be the one who brings him bad news!  Instead of creating a nurturing culture within the team and have members assume more responsibilities,  encourage initiative  and drive collaboration, he seeks to take more control and to directly oversee more decisions!  It is certainly not a scalable model and not an environment in which it’s fun to operate.

I still feel that over the years this company was overall very good to me. I am also enjoying the idea that I may write a book one of these days that I envision will be titled: “From Good to Grate – how your boss can turn a fun company into an irritating one” (My current boss will be a major contributor to this effort).

I’m giving serious thought to moving on.  What do you think?

About Ken Drossman

Ken Drossman is a Managing Director at Oak & Apple Partners, LLC. Ken has spent more than 35 years demonstrating practical financial acumen by leading, advising and guiding privately-owned, small and middle-market companies through financial and operating challenges. He has in-depth experience in all phases of financial, strategic and operating management from hands on cash flow budgeting through acquisition financing, from divestiture of business units to reorganizing and leading newly formed companies. Prior to co-founding Oak & Apple Partners, Ken has been the principal at Lakeview Business Consulting, LLC, which assists entrepreneurial business owners and their companies in achieving their business vision. Ken earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Before founding Lakeview Business Consulting in 2006, he served for 18 years as CEO, COO and/or CFO at several privately-owned companies, in industries including financial services for hospitals; digital document storage and outsourced back-office services for professional service firms; design and distribution of personal business accessories through big-box retailers; capital goods manufacturing for national and regional retail chains; and information services for beverage alcohol manufacturing and marketing companies. Previously, Ken was a Partner at Grant Thornton, LLP, where he provided management consulting services to such companies as AT&T, Baxter Laboratories and GTE-Sylvania, as well as many middle-market companies.
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3 Responses to My Boss is PMSing (Putting More Stress) on the Leadership Team

  1. Tom Northup says:

    Unfortunately this type leader is all too common. They don’t build a positive culture and the team and organization under perform. Daniel Goleman, PhD, and others have research demonstrating that culture can have as much as a 35% effect on performance and results. Here is a real life example.
    The moving on question is personally difficult. There are financial and other issues. For a self motivated positive person the inability to perform at the capability you know you can and to not make a significant impact makes continuing difficult. At some point the personal decision has to be find an organization where you can reach you full capacity and be satisfied with your and organizational performance.

  2. gbwinsurance says:

    1) If the underlying company is weak relative to the competition;
    2) If the company’s market is declining and a bigger slice of the shrinking pie wouldn’t be good enough for your future.
    3) If the management above you won’t/can’t change 1 or react to 2.
    4) If it wouldn’t be fun every day even if 1 2 and 3 were fixed.
    5) If you’re more salable than is the company.
    Then; even if they shoot your boss,
    Find your next great opportunity and go.
    Actually, why haven’t you left yet?

  3. Pingback: My Last Year… | Oak & Apple Partners' Blog

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