Yet when seeking a successor to a manager or director, its usually the executive team or Board that both define the skills, qualities+ experience they are seeking and conduct the selection process.
But the people who have to actually work with them day in day out are rarely, if ever, consulted. They are the ones who have to executive the directives of the new leader, know better than anyone the realities of what it takes to get the job done and are the ones most impacted by the skills + personality of the new leader.
Certainly management isn’t a popularity contest, and its rare a company can institute a Maverick/Semco solution where leaders are voted for, or key decisions are voted for via employee democracy. But it seems to me a missed opportunity if the team are not consulted with when designing the selection criteria, or considering the qualities required in the workplace.
The appointment of a new leader is a risky and delicate moment for the organisation and team. The selection team or employer want to make sure the time consuming and expensive process sees the appointment of someone who can drive results quickly and see the organisation prosper. They often take the opportunity to reshape the strategic direction or set new KPIs.
The staff naturally hope the appointment allows them to keep the things about the job they like, and improve on the ones they don’t, and the new appointment wants to shine and make a difference. Everyone wants to win. But those ‘wins’ can be quite diverse and rarely shared with the main stakeholder groups.
With any appointment the risk is always there that there will be attrition from team members who don’t like the appointment for various reasons, such as personality, new workplace culture or the KPIs put in place as the new leader wants to put runs on the board.
I don’t think the risks are any greater or less if the appointment is from within or without. With the former there will be team members who are not fans of the appointment, or are too familiar for them to exercise effectively the new authority. So whilst they may seem the one who can step up easily with minimum disruption, they may come with baggage.
With an external choice, they may have a mandate from the people they report to make changes, or drive results that may be at odds with the current culture. But to carry that off they need to bring the team with them and attune to the workplace culture quickly. With advance insight from consultation as part of the process that can be done so much more easily.
By taking the team into their confidence and asking for input the selection panel can mitigate some of these risks as part of the overall mix. The team can provide insight into the workplace, the key needs of the organisation as they see it, and the qualities they see a new leader needs to have as part of the selection process.
As a group I suggest they will be mature enough to know that they are not going to get their next best friend by coming up with a wish list. The fact they are asked at all sends a powerful signal too that they are valued by senior management. Most people want the best for the place they work for, and understand that the next appointment will have responsibilities to answer for and there will be some changes they can expect.
The caveat, of course, is that they would have to understand that by presenting a shopping list of their dream boss will not result in that coming about, but at least they’ll have been heard
Through this consultation process those involved will have gained insights into the organisation they may not have otherwise received, had a chance to be listened to, and the new appointment can be well briefed on the team’s perspective, leading to a well-informed appointment.