I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Tony Drake of Drake & Associates, along with Drake’s new COO, Mark Flatow, to discuss the pitfalls and pleasures of sharing your company’s vision and success with a new executive hire. Success in business is a tricky thing. After all, nobody ever started up a company hoping it wouldn’t do too well. But the more successful your business becomes, the larger it grows and the more difficult it is to keep a handle on every moving part. It is almost an inevitability that you will need take on another C-Suite executive – if not a team of executives – to help manage and oversee the big picture.
When Doing It All Makes You an Obstacle
It is only natural to want your fingerprints on every decision that involves your young, growing business. After all, you created it, you did all the legwork to make your dream a reality, you probably sank your own capital into it to get it off the ground. It’s your baby. But even the most doting parent, despite their best intentions, can start getting in the way. And eventually, if everything goes well, your company will grow to the point that no one person can possibly keep every plate spinning.
As Tony Drake explains: “When I started, it was just me. I was the janitor, the advisor, the chief IT guy. I was everything and thought I could do it. But if you’re the owner of a rapidly growing business, you have to understand that at some point, you’re probably the bottleneck. Every decision was coming to my desk and it got to a point where it wasn’t working anymore.”
Knowing Your Limitations
Bringing another executive into the mix can be a difficult pill to swallow if you’re the type of CEO/owner who wants your irons in every fire. Disengaging from some business decisions and leaving them to a newcomer is a ripe opportunity for worrying whether you made the right choice in handing off some of your authority. But as anxiety-inducing as this may be, hiring another executive will not only free up time for you to focus on the macro side of the business, but it also gives your business another leader with strengths and knowledge bases that you may not possess.
Says Drake: “I really needed somebody that was high-caliber, really capable of taking some of the tasks. It let me start to have space to think about the business instead of being stuck in the inner workings every day. It meant I now had time to think about the business’ direction instead of just flying by the seat of our pants. Ultimately, it really freed me up to focus on growing the business.”
Setting Expectations and Allowing Change to Happen
Once you have decided that your business has grown to the point that you need another hand on the wheel, there’s more to be done besides making sure the spare office is ready for them. Some of these tasks are measurable, such as creating and implementing a new organizational flowchart. Others are more internal and can only be learned with real-world practice.
Per Mark Flatow, “Any kind of change is always going to make you a bit nervous. An organization needs to be adaptable to what works best. So as a COO, you need to come in with an open mind, knowing we have some general ideas of where we need to go, but the actual path isn’t set yet.”
Open and honest communication is the key to smoothly introducing a new executive to a team that is accustomed to working directly with the owner. Positioning the new hire as a tool that will allow them to more easily handle their workloads is a strong message that shows you have everyone’s morale and mental health in mind, not just your own.
“Conducting employee interviews, verifying what workflows are already in place, and figuring out what’s working and what’s not working was basically how I started out,” Flatow says. “That and making sure that everyone knew that I wasn’t just a consultant there to fire people or change their job descriptions or anything like that. I was there to fine-tune the processes already in place to identify everyone’s needs and help them do their jobs better and further their careers.”
Is it Time for You to Make the Leap?
GRN Mid-Cities specializes in high-level C-Suite executive placement in the FinTech, Wealth Management, Asset Management, and RIA industries. If your business is growing by leaps and bounds and you’re ready to bring in a C-Suite executive to help steer the ship, contact us today to see how we can help you!
If you’re interested in more conversations like this, check out the Namastir Podcast and listen to oodles of conversations with top executives on everything from growth mindsets to philosophy and more!