TOUGH CALL: Experience Vs. Future
You’d like to promote a rising star, but that would displace a capable long-time family friend. What would you do?
As the second-generation owner of an established and profitable lumberyard, you’re in an enviable position. Even though your dad isn’t actively involved with the company he founded back in the 1960s, and he’s given his blessing to run the business as you see fit, you’re determined to preserve and build on what he started. Honoring the past while driving forward is a worthy goal, but in one specific area, you’re finding that hard to do. Here’s the situation:
Ike was one of the first people your dad hired when he launched the business. A loyal and hardworking associate, Ike eventually became your dad’s right hand man and a close family friend. You’ve known him your whole life, and you were happy that he wanted to stay on at the company after you took over from your dad. So happy, in fact, that you assured him that he’d have a job with you as long as he chose to stay. Today, as his 50th anniversary with your company looms, Ike continues to work full-time, and serves as your general manager.
On the other end of the spectrum, Mike is in his late thirties and has proven himself to be an exceptional member of your team. He started working for your company part-time while in high school. Since then, he’s held many different positions, including general yard worker, forklift driver, delivery driver, inside sales, and outside sales—and has excelled at every one of them. Mike gets along well with the rest of your team, and customers love him.
There’s no question that Mike has a bright future in this business. Your competitors know it, too. They’ve tried twice to lure him away. Thankfully, his answer has been no. So far.
Mike is recently married with a baby on the way, and you know he’s interested in moving forward with his career.
Fortunately, he would like to stay with your company, and you truly see him as a strong future leader for your company. The problem is, the logical position to move him into is general manager. But that’s Ike’s role, and Ike has told you that he has no intention of retiring for the foreseeable future.
While Mike would like to stay with you, you’re realistic enough to know that it’s a matter of time before he receives an offer that’s too good to pass up. You believe that he’s ready to begin transitioning to the general manager role, but you’re not prepared to displace Ike—for several reasons. First, he’s very good at what he does, and he knows this business better than anyone. Second, you assured him that he could stay as long as he wanted and you feel strongly about honoring that commitment.
Bottom line: You’re confident you could keep Mike on board if you were to promote him to general manager, but you’re not willing to displace Ike in order to make that happen. It’s not always black and white. Weigh in with your decision-making savvy with LBM Journal’s Tough Call Poll below, and see instantly how your judgment stacks up. What would you do?
Let It Be: As your dad always says, “Things have a way of working out.” Stand back and let the situation resolve itself.
Map a Plan: Sit down with Mike and let him know your dilemma, and assure him that once Ike retires, the general manager position is his.
Ask Ike: Sit down with Ike and let him know that you don’t want to let him go, but Mike is too valuable to lose. Ask what he would do.
Transition: Let Ike know that, once he retires, you plan to promote Mike to general manager. Ask Ike to begin grooming Mike to prepare for that day.