Executives across a broad-spectrum of industries face and manage common performance and performance related issues. Working with over 1500 executives has taught us that performance is more than simple metrics.
Performance is an interwoven tapestry of perceptions, competency, execution, social/political issues, relationships and demonstrable metrics. Rarely does an executive lose his or her job for simply failing to produce some tangible metric. It does happen but usually that is not the whole story or even the main theme of the story. The problems boil down to one or more of the following issues:
Poor fit – hire someone for a role that is a poor fit for that role and no amount of time, money and coaching will change the basic fact. If you go through the basic steps to determine someone is not a good fit then the sooner you admit this and take action the better for everyone.
Transitioning into a new organization or role – get off to a bad start and it will take a tremendous effort and time to get back to positive ground if one can. There are a lot of ways to get off to a bad start and only the highly skilled and self-aware usually transition without taking a few bumps.
Lack of executive sponsorship – the larger the organization the more important it is to have executive/political top cover. Without top cover you are exposed and in some situations it does not matter how good you are.
Relationships – having broad mutually beneficial/respectful relationships is a key foundational component to having long-term success. At the end of the day have you demonstrated skill, character and trust that makes people want to follow you?
Competencies – There are core competencies you must demonstrate if you are going to be successful. These core competencies are a combination of both soft people skills and hard business or technical skills.
Communication skills – unrefined communications skills are a very common executive derailer. The typical communication skills that cause executives problems are being too aggressive, not listening, unfocused rambling, lacking confidence, being argumentative, arrogant or not setting clear expectations.
Leadership – do you establish a clear direction and drive the team and the business forward, resolve business and people issues in a timely manner and do it in a way that inspires people to do their best?
Temperament, maturity and judgment – These fall into a single bucket and are harder to coach then the other areas. In addition, perceptions of these areas are harder and take longer to overcome if you are perceived lacking in them. These can be overcome if the organization/executive sponsor is willing to give you time to grow past the perceived or actual shortfall.