CHICAGO–Among the most difficult of responsibilities facing any CEO: guiding the credit union through times of expansion. One person has some advice on how to deftly handle the task.
“Processes that previously operated smoothly may suddenly need to evolve,” said Marc Cooper, CEO of PJ Solomon, noting, “New problems can arise demanding different solutions.”
Writing on ChiefExecutive.net, Cooper said his experience in overseeing a company during a time of rapid expansion he has learned some valuable strategies to overcome the natural growing pains that occur in the process.
Hire the Right People
“While it seems obvious, it is simply the most important thing you can do,” he wrote. “With each person you hire, it is critical to think about how they will fit into the fabric of the organization. It doesn’t matter if you have the greatest superstar in the world if they do not fit in culturally it will not work. Stay true to the culture you have established and avoid hiring those who are not compatible and who could create even more challenges to manage.”
Know When Things Are Not Working
“One of the biggest mistakes executives make is waiting too long to take corrective action,” according to Cooper. “As CEOs, we are, by definition, optimists; our role is to inspire positivity and drive growth. However, throughout my career, I have learned that you need to take action at the first sign things are not going in the right direction. That action does not always have to be an aggressive move; it could be a small correction, but it does sometimes require you to reverse course on a decision you have made.”
Be Open to Changes and Mistakes
“Good leaders make mistakes,” observed Cooper. “Great leaders learn from them, fix them, and do their best to ensure it does not happen a second time. If you have never made a mistake, you are probably not being aggressive enough—or you are probably not admitting it. While mistakes are an inevitable part of leading a company through a time of change, a successful CEO does not just accept them as part of the process, but rather, uses them as opportunities to learn and improve their strategy.”
Treat Your Employees as Partners
A CEO sets the tone for an organization and this will come through to those working under you, said Cooper.
“Most surveys suggest that recognition and corporate culture are more important to employees than compensation. Especially during times of expansion, it is essential to keep in mind the tone you set for your employees. If you treat your employees like hired guns, they will act like hired guns and be more likely to act in their own self-interest and not necessarily those that are in the firm’s best interest. However, if you treat your employees as partners and give them the opportunities they deserve, you will foster respect and strengthen community within your organization.”
Establish an Open Door Policy
Open communication is vital, according to Cooper.
“An environment in which employees feel comfortable sharing feedback and discussing their thoughts with leadership can be extremely beneficial to the company and its staff. This is particularly important as a company adds new hires at a rapid pace.
“Other ways you can encourage ongoing dialogue can be through weekly and monthly team meetings, quarterly or annually all-company town halls, and by inviting junior staff into your office to discuss work-related matters. These tactics can make CEOs appear more approachable, which will contribute to a stronger firm culture and higher satisfaction among employees.
“Never forget that your most important assets are your employees. Consider how new hires will fit into the existing culture, treat them with respect, and recognize when things are not working.”