Brad Feld’s recent post about signs a board of directors should replace the company’s CEO got me thinking about a larger issue. Why not apply the same problems to a worker’s role in the company? The main difference is the middle manager or line worker usually has less money and capital invested in the success of the enterprise but many of the same ideas hold true. The list below is modified from Brad’s post to focus on the role of an individual worker.
Signs you should consider replacing your company
- I never hear from my commanding officer (other than at interdepartmental meetings) except after I initiate the contact.
- All communications from my commanding officer are “sales pitches.” If all the news is good, I know something is wrong. If all communications are “presentations” (instead of interactions), something is wrong. The corollary to this is when important news, good news or bad news, usually comes from a back channel such as other employees informing me of a change in my department or responsibilities or when you first hear the news from someone outside the company.
- Corporate or departmental failures always turn into “learning experiences.” The deals you are told are about to happen, or the corporate and departmental initiatives that never came to fruition, become learning experiences or the result of changed corporate goals and initiatives. Mistakes happen and are usually learned from, but repeated mistakes in any walk of life are a bad sign.
- There is a revolving door at any level. I am suspicious when there are many people leaving a department, especially after workers within the company know the employee had not been happy in his or her role for a while. Was the departure avoidable? It is not common to hear management remark that the person left the company for personal reasons or aspirations, yet the corporate message is usually “it is actually good this person is leaving as she wasn’t very effective in her role.” A related issue is when the founder or CEO frequently blames or complains about a department or its actions yet hangs on to the responsible persons because they do not want to deal with the knowledge transfer and replacement process or take steps to improve that individual’s effectiveness within the company.
Additional signs of planning trouble
- Not facing planning reality. A strategic product is behind schedule, there are no clear plans to rectify and adjust, and no one is really sure why.
- Corporate management starts coming up with deals that make no sense but have big names or big promised numbers.
- Pandering to the founder/CEO/board. Staff takes every request or idea from every board member, advisor, founder, or CEO and immediately integrates the idea into a product roadmap. Big trouble if the ideas bypass product teams completely.