Ask John Dame: Give employees time to adjust to new corporate culture

As an executive coach for the past 15 years, I have worked closely with dozens of CEOs and their leadership teams. All of the executives with whom I work face similar issues. Send your questions to JD@johndame.com.

Q: I just replaced a long-time employee who ran all my operations. Her replacement has found that there are quite a few downstream leaders who are not good fits with our culture. We cannot replace everyone. What should we do?

A: If I understand correctly, your previous leader did a terrific job and was the right person for the job at the right time. Your new leader will need to gradually increase his or her influence and work with each direct report to more clearly identify the “new” culture and the expectations within that culture.

Remember, cultural changes are glacial and take a long time permeate through a company. Don’t get frustrated too quickly.

Finally, your new leader will need to focus on the capabilities of each leader who reports to him or her. The new manager will need to evaluate whether his or her direct reports are fully capable of doing the level of work required by their position. This will give you the right insights with respect to anyone who cannot make the cut at your company moving forward.

Q: My most senior manager has an inflated sense of self-importance and has created an atmosphere of fear and distrust. What can I do? This individual is critical to the success of our company.

A: If you have not already had a conversation with this manager, I would have that conversation right away. This issue you have described will only get worse if you choose not to discuss it.

Just a reminder that you should coach observable behaviors, not work to change a personality. I’d identify one behavior that is creating problems. Let your manager know what issues that behavior is causing within the organization and talk about ways your manager might show up differently.

This sounds like a huge blind spot. Your manager probably thinks he is doing a great job. Unless you let him know how his behavior is impacting the organization, he may never know this is happening.

You also need to overcome your fear of constructive conflict. Most CEOs I work with are afraid to enter into tough conversations with key employees for fear that employee will become unhappy or quit. My experience is that the opposite is true. Regular coaching with candid conversations is what great employees are craving. Don’t be afraid to have this conversation.

John Dame is a CEO coach, executive team consultant and leadership strategist based in Susquehanna Township, Pennsylvania. Visit his website at: www.johndame.com.

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