Brenda came to her new position as the leader of operations at a work site. Her predecessor, Mike, was being moved into a new position as a final step before his imminent retirement. This decision was made by their manager, Keith. Keith felt that it would be helpful to have Mike and Brenda working together for a period so that Mike could orient Brenda to her new position.
The challenge was that this period of overlap was set at six months. Brenda didn’t feel that she needed that much time; and since her style and approach to operations leadership was obvious to me as being quite different, I saw there was conflict. It is always advantageous in succession planning to have an opportunity for the incumbent to orient their replacement with some key information so that the transition is easier for the new person. Yet, a period of six months is way too long. It became very challenging not only for the two of them sharing a very small office, but also deciding how the work was to be divided while they were both working side by side. Also, the rest of their team was confused. People were wondering if they should go to Mike as in the past or should they approach Brenda who will be leading them going forward?
Prior to Brenda’s coming on board, and perhaps a result of her taking over, I had been coaching Mike. From my work, I shared my observations with Keith that helped him to realize that Mike was not being effective. This included a Needs Assessment of the entire work location and aspects of Mike’s leadership and communication skills. Once Brenda came on board, I was immediately asked to support her with a coaching program of her own. She began sharing that still having Mike around was impacting her ability to establish herself in her new role and let everyone else see her as the new leader. Now, I needed to approach Keith and let him know that his plan for a six-month transition was way too long and not necessary. Keith could be headstrong, so this was no easy undertaking. However, he and I had worked together on several projects when he was with another company, he trusted my perspective and made Mike’s shift to his new role a bit sooner. Sometimes, when I’m coaching a client, I’m able to impact their supervisor as a bonus.