HOW TO MANAGE THE FIRST HUNDRED DAYS OF A NEW ASSIGNMENT: a guide for leaders and boards.
SUMMARY OF SITUATION:
COMPANY: Third Generation family
business. The Board consists of
9 cousins/inlaws. There is a
Hatfields vs McCoy conflict that is creating strategic paralysis, but the
Board won’t bring in outside Directors. The Hatfield faction got enough votes to fire Roy McCoy, CEO of the
business. Roy had been CEO for
INTERVENTION: The Board retained Stybel Peabody to
conduct an external search for the next CEO. This search included interviewing Mark McCoy (VP Sales)
and Harry Hatfield (VP Finance) for the position. Neither individual was recommended for the CEO role by
Stybel Peabody. A non-family
executive was chosen to become the first non-family CEO for this business.
After the selection,
Stybel Peabody worked with the corporate Board on how the Board could work
with the new CEO. The Board
would not consider an Executive Committee. But it did agree to appoint the leader of the Hatfield
faction and the leader of the McCoy faction to act as liaison between the
Board and the new CEO. The
leaders of the Hatfield faction would serve as Chairman of the Board during
odd calendar years. And the
leader of the McCoy faction would serve as Chairman of the Board during even
calendar years. In this way the
continuity of the business as a family run business would be maintained.
All Board issues
would first pass through this new liaison.
The Board agreed to
bring in one external member of the Board.
Tom President is the
new CEO. Working with him and
Liaison group, the
following program was developed. “The First Hundred Days: rapidly linking the leader with the job”
leverages our understanding of the company plus our being outside
TOM PRESIDENT: RECOMMENDED PHASE ONE OF THE FIRST HUNDRED DAYS:
remove “Buyers Remorse.”
Basic Theme: “My mission from the Board is to keep Company a viable, profitable
family business if that is the wish of the Board. The goal is to build on what the last CEO has
accomplished. And when it is
time for me to leave, my mission is to have a member of the family become
Repeat the Basic Theme over and over again to anyone and
Honor the contributions of the last CEO. Get him a great looking plaque, have
a nice party. Invite customers,
suppliers, etc. Bring in some
people who might spoof him and videotape it. For creative ideas, call movie and theater director
Michael Allosso. 508-358-7896.
The CEO will say he doesn’t want the party. Don’t believe him!!
Line up the Board: involve the Liaison Group in the
Initial Going-In Mandate. The
Going In Mandate becomes the framework for the CEO Board evaluation and how
the bonus will be determined.
What is to be improved and what
is the timeframe?
kind of performance would result in maximum bonus?
kind of performance would result in average bonus?
What is to be preserved? (culture/values)
What is to avoided at all
costs? What products or people
are untouchable? Is Mark a
sacred cow that can’t be touched? Is the plant location a sacred cow that can’t be touched?
What class of decisions can I
make and inform the Board after the fact?
What class of decisions can I
make but should and get Board input before decisions are made?
What class of decisions are
really Board decisions?
Once there is verbal agreement, write up your
understanding in the form of a memo. Give the liaison group copies. Keep your copy.
Ask the liaison group to keep an open mind to your coming
back to them in sixty days to again review the Going In Mandate based on what
you have learned over the last 60 days.
2.Dealing with Mark and Harry
Go to their offices individually. Start with Harry first. You want to get Harry’s honest
reactions, uncolored by Mark’s reaction.
Don’t have them go to your office. The office still will be perceived as
“The Previous CEO’s Office” for a while.
Repeat The Basic Theme. Stress your sincerity in accomplishing The Basic
As proof of your sincerity, suggest something concrete to
position them to improve their ability to contribute to the company’s
future. Tell them you think them
capable of higher-level contributions, etc. You want them to think about what they need to get to that
For Mark I recommend the Harvard Business School’s AMP
Program or the Harvard Business School’s “Families in Business: from
generation to generation.”
“Families in Business’ is $6,500 and takes place in
November. That time frame is
For more information, go to:
HARRY: With Harry,
I would recommend that the company underwrite his admission into the
Financial Executives International and to attend one national conference a
year. I would recommend the CFO National Summit sponsored by FEI.
Annual dues are $435 per year. I can introduce Harry to the President-Elect of FEI and
get Harry involved at a Committee level.
The goal is to develop a network of CFOs who are more
senior than he is. Harry needs
more external perspective at this point in his career.
In two years, you might tell him you are open to
championing his admission to the Harvard Business School AMP Program or a
similar program at Wharton, Amos Tuck, or Stanford.
I think Harry will be very pleased with this gesture. I think he would take advantage of
With respect to Mark, I think he may not follow up.
It doesn’t matter if he takes advantage of your gesture or
The key issue is to back up The Basic Theme with a
concrete program to show the Board you mean what you say.
If Mark does nothing with your overture, you strengthen
your hand with the Board if you and Mark come to loggerheads six months
MANAGING YOUR OWN NETWORK:
Does the Company have a publicity function? If not, I can draft a press release
to go to alumni news group at Cornell University, The Harvard Business
School, The Boston Globe, The Boston Business Journal and your local
newspaper. The same notice
should also go to the following trade publications: x, y, and z.
CONSIDER A CEO ADVISORY GROUP:
Other CEOs are good for bouncing ideas in a confidential
The Executive Committee (www.teconline.com). Contact Gordon White at 617
699-5995. Gordon was a
non-family CEO of a third generation family business.
GONE BUT NOT
BUSINESS WEEK, June
Executives facing the corporate ax have come to expect a
number of palliatives to blunt the initial pain of job loss: one-on-one
career counseling, resume editing, and the use of company equipment, among
others. Not nearly as well known but growing is a nontraditional form of
retained search help. "Assimilation" consulting provides downsized
execs that were high in a company's pecking order with several months of
counseling -- -- at their former employer's expense -- on successfully
settling into a new job.
Stybel Peabody Associates added what it calls its "First One
Hundred Days" assimilation-counseling program to its standard
retained search package last year.
Why would an employer go this far for people it no longer wants -- even, in
some cases, ensuring they do well at a competitor? One reason may simply be
that retained search companies have persuaded them to do so with clever
marketing. Assimilation counseling has been around for years, but it really
began to catch fire about three years ago, says Michael Giuffrida, executive
director of the Association of Career Management Consulting Firms
International, a trade group in Washington, D.C. A roaring job market had
lessened the need for career services, forcing companies in the competitive
retained search business to find ways to distinguish themselves. Assimilation
consulting seemed a good "valued-added," Giuffrida says.
The services differ in such details as the duration of the counseling. But in
general, the retained search company pairs the executive with a coach, often a
business veteran who has executive-level experience. The coach doles out
advice on such matters as sizing up an unfamiliar corporate culture and
prioritizing assignments, and also helps solve problems that emerge on the
"It was very helpful," says the president and COO of a Boston-area
technology startup who used Stybel Peabody Lincolnshire's retained search
services after he lost a top job at a larger company last year. The man, who
asked not to be identified, says that after he joined the new company, he
would speak to his coach, Stybel Peabody President Laurence J. Stybel, for
about a half hour every week or so on the phone or over breakfast. The
executive says he received good initial advice: Stybel urged him to ask for a
clear understanding from his bosses -- the board of directors and company
investors -- about their expectations for him. The result, he says, was a
frank discussion about projects and employees they considered untouchable.
Stybel's guidance also came in handy when the new CEO needed to decide
whether to fire several executives whose performance he considered only
average. If he handed out pink slips at once, he risked scaring off
about-to-be-snagged investors who would be concerned about holes in management.
He weighed the pros and cons with Stybel, and decided to keep the executives
-- and won the financing.
Assimilation counseling "gives you a better opportunity to understand
what the road in front of you looks like and to help you steer the car down
the middle of the road," says this COO. Better that, former employers no
doubt reason, than causing yet another wreck on the career highway.
By Pamela Mendels in New
THE FIRST HUNDRED DAYS: a programmatic approach to
rapidly increasing new leader effectiveness
Classic retained search is a transactional sale. It stops once the newly hired executive
crosses the threshold of the door of his/her new office.
The better search consultants may call up to inquire,
“How is It Going?”
Our clients retain us because they are seeking competent
leadership for their unique needs. Search is only part of that process.
We have an integrated suite of programs we offer client
companies under the heading of THE FIRST HUNDRED DAYS:
Rapidly Linking the Leader with the Job.
Rapidly Linking the Leader with the Team.
Rapidly Linking the Leader with the Enterprise.
As part of our retained search work, we offer Rapidly
Linking the Leader with the Team. There is no additional charge when it is part of a retained search
agreement. It can be provided as
a separate feature, independent of the search.
The other two modules can be purchased separately.
The framework behind Rapidly Linking the Leader with the
Job is explained in our recent speech to the Financial Executives
That speech is called “Framed to Fail: how companies
mis-structure new assignments and what you can do about it.”
TO FAIL: HOW COMPANIES MIS-STRUCTURE NEW ASSIGNMENTS AND WHAT YOU CAN DO
Laurence J. Stybel, Ed.D. & Maryanne Peabody
STYBEL PEABODY & ASSOCIATES, INC.
Sixty State Street, S. 700
Boston, MA 02109
Speech Given to the Financial Executives International National Conference,
have just been hired OR you’ve just hired someone from outside OR you have
just promoted someone internally.
want to build an initial framework for later success.
issues we will discuss include:
Looking at talent acquisition and talent departure as part of an
assignment cycle framework.
What are the Difference Between Symmetrical and Asymmetrical
What are the most productive things you can do in the first five days
of a new assignment.
What is a Going-In Mandate?
How do you Negotiate a Going-In Mandate and Why Would you Renegotiate
it 20 Days Later?
WE ARE LIKE PATHOLOGISTS
nearly 23 years, STYBEL PEABODY Has provided senior executive retained search
are like pathologists with labs in a corner of the basement.
Cadavers come down the elevator to us. We do our pathology work in secret. By this I mean we might be the
only people who actually get a chance to talk to departing executives,
bosses, and colleagues. We discuss
our findings with no one. .
We develop a picture of what happened, when it happened, and why it
We are also like the pathologist in the basement
who finds that no doctor upstairs is interested in coming down to the
basement to ask, “how did these patients die in the first place and how can
we avoid this happening in the future?
want to discuss what we have learned from our work in the basement pathology
THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A SENIOR EXECUTIVE ASSIGNMENT CYCLE(sm)
retained search industry and the retained search industry treat the hiring of
talent and the removal of talent as discrete transactions.
transaction I mean that the symbolic event of the executive crossing the
threshold of the door to his/her new office symbolizes that the service is
over for both retained search and full service retained search.
happens once the executive crosses that threshold is not their concern.
the other hand, for us this is just when the fun begins.
retained search and retained search industries are not being shortsighted. They are merely responsive to the
wishes of their corporate clients.
argue that there really is something called the senior executive assignment
cycle. To arbitrarily chop up
these events into separate transactions can be expensively wrong, given costs
of senior executive mis-hires.
me give you one example.
Rakesh Khurana of the Harvard Business School examined the validity of
treating departure events and arrival events as separate transactions.
from the Fortune 200 firms were reviewed from 1978 until 1993.
Khurana examined three variables.
number one was CEO Departure. Departure was either Natural or Forced.
Departure was defined as a press announcement stating that the CEO was
retiring or resigning to join another company.
Departure was defined as a press announcement stating that the CEO was
resigning for personal reasons or to go into consulting or some other vague
number two was CEO Arrival. Internal promotions were defined as executives who had been with the
organization more than 12 months before their selection. External promotions were defined as
executives who had been with the organization from zero to 11 months before
number three was an outcome measurement. This outcome measurement was defined as the annual
operating return for the firm—that’s operating income before taxes,
royalties, dividends, depreciation, etc. Annual Operating Return is the number least subject to
was an industry-adjusted basis for coding.
company information was then tabulated over a 15-year period.
200 firms studied had 221 CEO turnovers during the 15-year period of
appointments were made 85% of the time.
Khurana concluded that looking at the insider-outsider distinction might be
meaningless without explicitly taking into account the conditions surrounding
the departure of the predecessor.
CEOs coming on the heels of the forced departure of the previous CEOs did
best when achieving positive changes in operating return. The hypothesis is that the Board is
sending a signal to the entire management structure by the forced exit and
the arrival of an outsider. This
reduces the initial period of resistance to change. The significance of this effect was greater than the .01
level of confidence.
removal of the CEO followed by the introduction of an insider tends to
produce almost zero change.
CEO departure followed by an outsider actually results in performance
declines. This may be that the
combination of natural exit with the arrival of an external CEO means the
board is creating mixed messages about its commitment to change. And this mixed message can result in
the highest degree of management resistance to new interventions.
VERSUS ASYMMETRICAL ASSIGNMENT CYCLES(sm)
our perspective, we view the shape of assignment cycles. Symmetry is the forced expulsion of
the previous CEO followed by the external hiring of the new CEO. Symmetry is the natural retirement of
the previous CEO followed by the internal promotion of the new CEO.
is the forced expulsion of the previous CEO followed by the internal hiring
of a new CEO.
is the situation we are currently dealing with in a CEO search conducted by
Board has concluded that the current CEO has not provided the direction
needed for the 21 century and has fired him. But they are going to hire an internal candidate to be the
leader of that new change. Their
rationale is that the internal CEO can make the most rapid changes because he
knows where all the problems are in the company. The Board calls this “hitting the ground running.” Using Professor Khurana’s research,
we have told the Board that the CEO may expect to receive high levels of
resistance to change because of the mixed messages communicated by the Board. And there is work that needs to
be done to anticipate and deal with this inevitable resistance.
THE FRAMED TO FAIL SYNDROME:
run a specific coaching program for new executives called The First Hundred
Days (sm). As part of our
assignment cycle framework, it is offered as part of our retained search work
and it is offered as part of our full service retained search work.
The First Hundred Days? (sm)
companies give a new manager a 60-100 day grace period to learn. Towards the end of that 60-100 day
period, however, the first significant intervention is expected.
during this critical first 60-100 days provides a scaffold to build later
provides a probability that someone is going to light a bonfire under the
are three basic questions that must be answered at the start of a new
assignment: what do I want to achieve, what do I want to preserve, and what
do I want to avoid?
the initial "achieve/preserve/avoid" mantra put a framework around
your actions for the first 5-20 days.
answers to these questions are not intuitively obvious.
you may have been given mis-information or incomplete information during the
job interview. We call this
incomplete information “Framed to Fail.”
interviews often focus only on what needs to be changed, systematically
avoiding the preserve/avoid component. What needs to be preserved and avoided can nullify the ability to make
the changes that are necessary. For you are a new VP Compensation & Benefits:
Your mission is to use compensation as a tool to change the corporate
culture. Our present status is
that we are a functionally focused organization that is failing to pull
together. We want to create an
organization where the Departmental managers are focused on customer
retention and net income as the key matrix for success. Of course, we have a strong
paternalistic culture we wish to retain. The CEO’s brother-in-law is the head of Sales. Whatever you do, don’t get him upset!
Visually think of change in three dimensions with change/preserve/avoid
being the dimensions.
is a tip for Job Candidates: It
is a great interview tactic to ask employers change/preserve/avoid
questions. They love it.
to get that clear road map in the first ten days of your new assignment means
that you will eventually discover the three dimensions of change………by getting
your fingers slapped as your interventions fail!
is nothing wrong with getting your fingers slapped. It is part of being a senior executive.
interventions in the first hundred days of a new assignment don’t build that
framework that allows you to have credibility.
failure also wastes precious time.
THE GOING IN MANDATE
next concept is called The Going in Mandate.
stress the programmatic, structured importance of negotiating AND then
re-negotiating the Going-In Mandate.
day 2-5 of the new assignment, the boss/subordinate team should meet to
jointly complete the Going-In Mandate. The going in mandate comes from Harvard Business School Professor Jack
Gabarro’s seminal work on CEO entry.
Going-In mandate should include the following:
needs to be changed and what is the time frame?
needs to be preserved?
needs to be avoided at all costs?
things can I unilaterally change without consulting my boss?
things should I consult my boss on before making changes?
things should I let my boss make the final decision?
ideas are intuitively obvious but seldom part of a structured management
procedure for insuring similar perspective between the new boss/subordinate
are simply recommending that these obvious ideas be formalized.
Gabarro stresses the importance of building subordinates into a cohesive
team. Failure to value a team approach to decision-making leads to a
management style characterized by Gabarro as the "Lone Ranger
Syndrome." And the Lone Ranger Syndrome was associated with management
"Compared to the
successful managers, (Lone Rangers) involved others to a much lesser degree
in the work of assessing and diagnosing organization problems. As a result,
their diagnoses of situations tended to be much more narrowly focused and
incomplete. Finally, they made changes that were perceived as inappropriate
or ineffective, either because the changes were based on partial or incorrect
diagnoses of problems or because the changes were badly implemented by a
management group that did not support them."
other words, your first 1-15 days, you should be walking around the
organization and asking many questions. Avoid summoning people to your office, as it creates a powerful first
impression that you are here to tell and not to listen. People may feel more comfortable
talking with you in their office and not yours.
Avoid all reference to “Let me tell
you how we used to do it at my old company.” It suggests you are seeking to force-mold your new
company into the image of your old one.
DON’T TACKLE THE MOST IMPORTANT PROBLEMS FIRST.
seventeen management successions over time. Regardless of industry, size, or country, there was a
tendency for management changes to come in waves of three, with the second
change being the most dramatic. The
last change was often a refinement of the major changes that took place in
the second wave. Indeed, this three-wave cycle took place even among managers
in the study who (at the time) believed that their first wave of action would
take care of most of the major changes.
Gabarro believes the three-wave effect
is a natural consequence of how new managers learn.
that there are at least three waves of change for any new manager, it is NOT
necessary for the first intervention to strike at the most
problems are what newly hired executives are most often urged to fix first.
would argue, however, that the most important problems tend to be the most
difficult to resolve.
It is best to begin your new
assignment with an intervention where you can win. Use the first win to build on later success. In handling a major intervention,
consider breaking it down to waves of three. For example:
example, instead of force-feeding a system wide benefits change, why not
first announce the change as an R&D project and try it out with the
functional area where the change will most likely produce the most positive
results? By calling it an
R&D project, you can later change the program without suffering loss of
political face. By testing it
out in the area most likely to be receptive, you have a safer platform for
the most important problems for the second cycle of change. The critical second cycle should
build on the success of the first. We recommend first cycle interventions focus on issues where there is
a high probability of success. For example:
Clinton did the right thing when he made allowing gays in the military his
first major intervention: he had
campaigned on this issue, he had courted the support of gays, and he was
firestorm of protest from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Conservative
Democrats made him back down. Big mistake. By making
gays in the military his first intervention and then loosing on the issue, he
set an initial framework for his Adversaries. That framework was successfully duplicated when he
introduced his comprehensive health care program.
the other hand, by the time President George W. Bush came to power, both
Democrats and Republications were embracing the concept of tax
reduction. The only squabbling
was over the amount of the reduction. Bush made this issue his first
intervention and it became his first success. His goal was to build on bi-partisan success for next
THE GOING-IN MANDATE
mentioned earlier, The Going-In Mandate should focus on timeframes and
specific goals for Change/Preserve/Avoid. Once it is written, however, the Going-In Mandate will
likely need to be re
once the new executive has a better appreciation of what is realistic in the
organization. In managing a
subordinate, you might want to ask the subordinate to re-write the Going-In
Mandate based on what has been learned about the organization in the last
to meet with your boss 16-20 days after the first day of employment to begin
this renegotiation process.
want your performance to be evaluated based on realistic goals.
don’t want to risk being Framed to Fail.
retained search industry, the retained search industry, and the corporate
clients both industries serve have a clear, simple, and inaccurate view of
the talent acquisition and talent removal process.
view these issues as discrete transactions.
believe there is evidence to suggest that there is such as thing as the
Senior Executive Assignment Cycle.
believe that there can be competitive value by managing the Senior Executive
Assignment Cycle rather than managing separate transactions.
the success of the new executive is dependent on the message the organization
sent in its removal of the predecessor. Forced exit of a predecessor combined with the entrance of an outside
executive sends a symmetrical signal. Natural exit of a predecessor combined with entrance of an outside
executive sends an asymmetrical signal.
time learning the conditions under which your predecessor left. Beware of asymmetrical assignment
the first 1-15 days learning what needs to be changed, avoided, and preserved
by getting out of your office and walking around or flying around. Avoid summoning people to your
you have learned what needs to be changed, avoided, and preserved
re-negotiate the Going-In Mandate so that your performance can be evaluated
on a realistic basis. We have
provided a structure for designing the going-in mandate.
tackling the most important problems first during the critical first hundred
days. Tackle the problems where
you can win.
if you find you misjudged the level of resistance, go to the mats and do what
needs to be done to win the first conflict. You can compromise on later conflicts. Don’t compromise on the first. This was the mistake Bill Clinton
made with homosexuals in the military.
your subordinate mis-judged the level of resistance on the first
intervention, back that subordinate to the hilt on the first
intervention. Don’t compromise
on the first intervention.
comes in waves of three. Try to
break your intervention into three parts and use the first part to test the
level of resistance within the organization. Your second intervention will be that much more informed
an assignment cycle perspective to employment means that senior level jobs
tend to be driven by the company exit strategy. Exit strategies can be to have a lifestyle business, to
grow so that we can acquire others, grow so that we can be acquired, or grow
to have an IPO.
a crisp understanding of what that exit strategy and its time frame will be a
powerful factor in influencing the quality of the assignment cycle.
hard for a decent severance package at the time you are hired. You will never be in a better
bargaining position to negotiate a good end to the cycle than at the
beginning of the cycle.
Framed to Fail Part II: Managing Enemies, Chums,
relationship management separates the merely competent from leaders who make
their companies thrive.
on our consulting work with senior executives, our First Hundred Days™ we want to provide a simple
framework for categorizing work relationships.
is a system for categorization of relationships important?
the following scenarios:
You expect me to contact Jane??!!! She contributed to my downfall. Jane is not a friend!!
Yes, I wrote that stupid, off-the-cuff response. Yes I sent it to Fred. But I never expected Fred to show
that Email to the CEO. I
considered Fred a friend!
do you think about these two statements?
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPER CATEGORIZATION
the early phases of an intellectual discipline, categorization tends to be
broad and imprecise. For
example, in the early days of mutual funds, the two categories were Equity
Funds and Money Market Funds. As
the industry matured, more categories were created for ease of
communications. The popular
nine-factor Morningstar system is a simple, useful system for categorization
of equity funds:
relationship management, new executives often use broad and imprecise
categories: friends versus enemies.
prolonged stress, however, we have seen senior executives cognitively regress
to the point of returning to this simplistic, dangerous categorization
system: friends versus
CEOs go through this type of cognitive regression with respect to how they
categorize Board members, the end of that CEO’s assignment cycle is clearly
of our roles during times of stress is to keep the categorization system
simple factor system for categorization of relationships adds to the
precision of relationship management efforts.
is a term often used by children. It is possible to have many “Best Friends.” “Best Friends” are those people who will love you
regardless of your actual behavior. They can be anchor points in your life. Most of us count ourselves lucky to have one “Best
the realities of business life, don’t look for “Best Friends” at work.
see many dysfunctional ties at work when CEOs begin to treat selected
subordinates as Best Friends.
there is a love relationship at work, it can introduce this kind of
the Marriage Vows.
simple ceremony focuses on the non-contingency nature of the relationship:
“In Sickness and in Health: For Richer or Poorer; For Better or Worse.” Statistics would suggest that in the
United States, 50% of newly weds may be marrying Friends and not Best
is the most over-used term in business in the United States. For some people in the United States,
it has deteriorated to the point of being used to describe anyone you call by
definition of “friend” is someone whose death would distress you to the point
of tears or disorientation.
Larry was involved in a project 25 years ago with Sam. Over the years, they would meet and
enjoy each other’s company. But
they probably had not met more than once every five years. Each year Sam would send Larry a
funny Christmas letter. Upon
hearing of Sam’s death, Larry became disoriented and sad. He realized that his
relationship with Sam had been far more emotionally positive for him than the
brief time they spent together would suggest. Sam was a friend and an important part of Larry’s
landscape, despite their relatively infrequent visits.
sales professionals often find themselves profoundly upset when they
misclassify a customer relationship: they thought they had Friends when they
really had Allies.
definition of “Enemy” is someone who can be counted upon to work against your
interests regardless of your behavior. It is the mirror image of Best Friend.
an unstable, insecure world, Enemies and Best Friends are reliable.
addition to reliability, Enemies provide zest and self-definition. Where would spies, sales
professionals, soldiers, CEOs, and politicians be without good Enemies?
zest, and self-definition in an unreliable world are powerful even if the
reliability is negative.
perspective helps provide a framework to comprehend why individuals,
companies, and nations tend to hang-on to their Enemies. It also rejects the classic
psychoanalytic notion that we are attracted to enemies because they possess
some of the attributes we cannot accept in ourselves. (Volkan, 1998).
the world moves faster and assignment cycles get shorter, we will develop
more enemies. Reliability, zest,
and self-definition are powerful. I can more control my selection of Enemies than my selection of Best
Adversary is someone who is working against your interests for reasons of
self-interest. If it is the
person’s interest to assist you, the Adversary will turn into an Ally.
key difference between an Adversary and an Enemy is that an Adversary’s
negativity is based on the Adversary’s perception of enlightened
self-interest. Change the rules
of the game and the Adversary can become an Ally. For example, the heads of Sales and the head of
Manufacturing are often political Adversaries because of their functional
responsibilities. It is not
necessarily the case that they are Enemies.
Variable compensation programs are often designed
to incent Adversaries to become Allies. For example, basing bonuses on achieving net income over a three-year
period versus quarterly sales. The rationale for the expansion of stock options as a variable
compensation factor was to move enlightened self-interest from a functional
perspective to an enterprise perspective.
Adversaries have a positive emotional feeling towards each other, they can be
called Chums. For example,
Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil and Republican Senate Majority
Leader Robert Dole were political Adversaries. But they enjoyed each other’s company so much they took
vacations together and purchased condo units in the same building.
positive support is contingency-based.
During the 2002 War in Pakistan, the Northern Alliance of Pakistan
fought with United States Forces to defeat the Taliban. The defeat of the Taliban had been
their objective, whereas the destruction of the terrorist network had been
the United States objective. With the defeat of the Taliban, the Northern Alliance eventually
refused to participate with the United States’ continued its pursuit of Osma
Bin Laden and his group.
allies have positive emotional feelings towards each other, they can also be
is a pleasure to have chums in business as long as the contingency basis for
the relationship is kept in mind.
When senior executives are terminated, we often find an emotional
let-down when they discover that their “friends” do not return phone calls
and are not helpful to them in their job searches. They often externalize their reaction, blaming their problems
on “false friends.” In our
model, however, the real source of the problem might lie in our clients’
misclassification of the relationship in the first place.
of the contingency nature of the relationship, Allies and Adversaries can and
do frequently shift position.
RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT: Chum Building
the executive levels, work is intense and time demanding. This intensity often leaves little
room for strong emotional commitments outside the work situation or the
nuclear family. The
intensity of work makes it easy to confuse Chums for Friends. Fred’s betrayal of our client is an
example of a client confusing Chumship for Friendship. Friends don’t stab each other in the
back. But Chums will do so if it
serves their interests.
management in relationships suggests it is prudent to presume Chumship rather
One can feel betrayed only by a friend or a Best Friend. The contingency nature of Allies and
Adversaries implies relationship fluidity.
senior level work moves from stability to an Assignment Cycle (tm) flow,
accurately differentiating Friends from Chums and Enemies from Adversaries
become key issue in the first hundred days of a new assignment.
Do not waste scarce time
or political capital trying to turn Enemies into Allies. Enemies tend to remain Enemies. As stated earlier, Enemies provide
both sides with zest, self-definition, and predictability in an unpredictable
world. Those are heady
reinforcements that are hard to turn-around. Use your scarce time for other purposes.
is easier to isolate Enemies by converting Neutrals into Allies. Neutrals can be converted to allies
by appealing to their enlightened self-interest.
It is reasonable to spend time for purposes of
retaining Allies. Given the
contingency nature of the relationship, never take Allies’ future support for
not confuse Adversary with Enemy. In our model, Adversaries can easily become Allies if it serves their
self-interest. Thus our client
who refuses to contact Jane may be missing an opportunity. Effective relationship management
requires clear distinction between Adversaries-Enemies. If you are too close to the situation
to be objective, get an external opinion.
become Enemies if you treat them as Enemies. Enemies remain enemies regardless of how you treat them.
relationship management is the differentiator between competence versus
relationship management requires a framework for easily categorizing work
relationships and then quickly dealing with those relationships in a
Laurence J. Stybel and Maryanne Peabody are co-founders of Stybel Peabody
Lincolnshire of Boston. Founded
in 1979, the firm assists companies in managing the Senior Executive
Assignment Cycle ™. Core
services include retained search of CEOs and Board members, coaching, and
helping senior executives craft new chapters in their professional lives. Their website is boardoptions.com.
Volkan. THE NEED TO HAVE ENEMIES
& ALLIES. Northvale, NJ:
Jason Aronson, 1988.