I work with companies of all sizes, startups to Fortune 100. Sometimes I work with the c-suite, other times mid-level managers. Every opportunity presents different challenges, frustrations, rewards and personal development; however, seeing how companies work from a people side is always unique.
Lately I've been thinking about where companies lose "it," and they all do. Some find it like after misplacing a cell phone. Others lose it like their hairline from their teenage years...it ain't ever coming back!
The "it" is knowing what's going on. The nuances that make things work in a relationship, personal or professional.
The early stages with fewer people allows leadership to know what is going on. As companies grow, people stop sharing the minutia because we believe one of two things: 1. I don't want to rehash everything in my day 2.The other party really doesn't care.
To avoid this from happening, there is one position every company needs, but very, very few actually have: the chief of knowing what the heck is going on without having any direct reports. The Chief of Nothing and Everything.
Whether its Fortune 100 companies or ones with 100 employees, it doesn't matter. There needs to be a role for a fixer. Someone who gets "it."
This person is terrific at dealing with people, which means you will want to put people under them...don't! They are smart on process, which means you will want to have them lead the entire project...don't! They understand how different departments mesh together, finance, HR, sales, and you will want to put them in HR....don't!
This person's role is to know what is going on.
The goal is to make sure that no department feels threatened and that no leader is scared. The goal of this person's job is to catch what is slipping because no one can manage everything. People are the most important asset we have. Let's let our managers manage and develop people, and let HR focus on the people issues.
Let this high-level thinker who understands most of everything in the business eavesdrop on everything. Have them sit in on meetings. Debrief with leaders, managers and staff. Pop in on an onboarding session. Sit in on budget meetings. Travel to the different offices. Sit in on meetings for performance improvement plans. Know the things a great CEO would if they didn't have the other things to know.
This person doesn't have budget responsibilities so they aren't in "protection mode." This person doesn't have staff, so they aren't worried about losing head count.
This person's job is to make the company better. Period. They are information gatherers. They are culture builders and protectors. They are leaders. They are "chiefs."