With one day remaining in my role as Vice President of People and Technology at Earls Restaurants, before I take on my new role as Chief Supply Chain Officer at MEC in January 2019, I’m reflecting on my time in transition:
I believe leaders are evaluated not only on their performance when they are in their role, but also what happens when they step out of it. When great leaders leave, there should be little or no void or impact of them having left.
Succession is an art and something that requires both long-term thinking (while in the job), mixed with a disciplined transition once the decision is made to go. While Michael D. Watkins wrote “The First 90” (that became the textbook on how to start a new role), during my time of exiting Earls, I was looking for the book on “The Last 15” that would support me with my transition out. Without such book in existence (or that I could find), I created the points below that guided my transition.
Starting Day One (or sooner)
Communicate your goals and intentions early | When I interviewed for my role at Earls, I was clear in articulating my career goal – I am developing into being a great CEO with the goals of leading a great company. When I recently announced my resignation, my team, my peers and my leader, Mo, all reflected that they could see that my next role supports me in getting one step closer to my end goal.
You’re always in succession planning | I always hire “remembering the future” (as my mentor Susanne Conrad would say). As leaders the demand on us is to make quality hires for today’s need. Yes, today matters, but I believe we are graded on the hiring decisions that we make for what the organization will require in the future. If you want to know if you got a passing grade, connect with your team two years after you’ve left them. I hire for fit, potential and commitment and find those that have strengths in areas that I am weak will be able to step in and take things on without me and replace me in any or all aspects of my job.
Play your people big and teach in every moment | The first leader that I loved working for was Scott Elliott; he taught me to always "hire people smarter than you." The second leader that I loved working for was Delaney Schweitzer who taught me the principle of “creating big jobs” for people. Both of them taught me what my passion is as a leader, to play people big and push them for the excellence they have within themselves. The 40 hours we spend at work is a sandbox for development and every moment is an opportunity to teach, learn and grow. I see it as a gift when my team no longer needs me or “replaces me” based on their excellence and performance.
During the Transition
Closing open loops, handing off relevant information and communicating what others will need to know is compulsory. Beyond that these principles guided me in my transition:
Seek to understand what others rely on you for | Be curious to see what others depend on you for and identify the gaps or risks of what happens when you're stepping away. In the past few weeks, my team has shared with what they rely on me for and I was overt in asking what risks they see when I step away. I used this to orient myself during the transition and built my plan.
Network people and the organization to the new “port” | In a computer network, when a port goes offline an intervention is needed to link the port to a new connection point. Taking the point above into consideration, during my transition I networked my team to the information, people and resources that can leverage when I’m not around to mitigate any risk or void.
Be guided by respect and patience | When a team member leaves it disrupts the norm. This brings up questions, uncertainty, and can create a stressful environment. I was present to this and remain committed to proceeding with respect, patience and love for my team and peers.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the Earls organization and work with the great people that created the casual dining market.
I am excited to join and steward one of Canada’s most trusted brands at MEC, a member-owned organization that allows us to explore a country that we love.
More to come…