One of our clients is planning to step down as CEO in a couple of years and wants to appoint his successor from inside the company. What makes this tricky is that there isn’t a single, obvious candidate. Recognizing that whoever he chooses will need some time to grow into the role, he wanted to get an early start. The first step was finding out who was interested and how the rest of the team felt about them.
A few years ago, I took on an assignment to turn around a family-owned lending company and prepare it for sale. One of the biggest issues was a truly toxic culture in the Operations group. Fully half the company’s employees worked there, and they consistently treated our customers as if the customers were lying and cheating. A steady flow of customer complaints reached my desk. Yet my efforts to coax, and even demand, a change in the Operations group’s behavior made no discernible impact.