When the MD nearly fired the new Sales Director
An IT Consultancy appointed a new Sales Director. It quickly became apparent that there was a clash of styles between the Sales Director and the existing Operations Director. Their frequent conflict, and the tension this created, began to affect staff and other members of the board. It also had a negative impact on customer service and sales teams as they were caught in the middle of the situation.
The Managing Director was inclined to fire the new head of sales but the Sales Director had a good pedigree, was well-connected in the industry and came with good references. The MD was persuaded by colleagues to explore other options before taking such action. We were engaged to work with the two individuals and also with the full board. We invited all board members to complete a series of psychometric questionnaires examining work styles, motivation, leadership style and the “Dark Side” of personality. Using the data from this and detailed individual feedback interviews, the causes of the clash between the two Directors was clear. In addition to having some some fundamental differences in style and approach, they were both concerned about their roles: the sales director was under pressure to perform quickly while the operations director was concerned about the additional stress that changes and additional business would bring to his team.
We designed and held two debriefing sessions with the Sales and Operations Directors together. We were able to demonstrate (and show graphically) how they saw the world differently – that they had conflicting priorities and motivations, both professionally and personally. A further workshop with the whole board enabled all to understand more about their respective differences as well as identifying their core strengths and styles.
This enhanced understanding of colleagues has helped them to focus on common priorities, instead of differences, bringing about a new climate of co-operation which has enabled the company to gain further market share quickly.