Coaching, Communication and C Level

610-head-in-hands-man-frustrated-laptop I was recently working with a regional MD who had left his company (on good terms), and weighing his options. With a solid industry reputation, he has no shortage of choices to ponder.

One possible option was with a large MNC, and he’d been in dialogue with them for not quite a year. Their regional CEO was personally looking for a replacement, and my coachee (let’s call him George) was in the running. He had met, dined and casually interviewed for the role, but their off-on again dialogue allowed him to focus on other possibilities.

Last month, George received an email from the CEO, apologising that it had been over two months since they last spoke, but wanted him to [virtually] meet their global head of talent. George replied that while he was pursuing other channels, he’d be happy to speak, and outlined his available times in a follow-up email.

He never heard back, and again continued on with his other work options.

George recounted to me that as he had never gotten a reply, he didn’t think they’d ever get the job filled with their laggardly communication.

I asked if he’d followed up again. He said no, hadn’t heard back, that was that, tough luck for them. He’s a very senior guy; it was the reply I expected.

I mentioned that clearly their clock was somehow set differently to a ‘no urgency’ time frame, and rather than make any assumptions, should he consider just picking up the phone and politely inquire?.

A pause, and a “good idea” answer.

* * *

Two thoughts only.

a) If a company wants to hire for a senior role, try to do so quickly and judiciously. I can personally tell you in this case, the market not only watches, but comments can get scathing, making it harder to actually hire. Whilst in the US recently, I ran into another friend who has a global role with a competitor of the aforementioned CEO. He asked what they were doing, and before I could answer, said, “If he hasn’t hired by now, he obviously has no one. What the hell is he thinking?”

Reputational capital at a senior level can be easily bruised, and within an organisation, few see it or think it matters. It does.

b) Do not rely on email exclusively. For many of us it is how we pass our days, and if no answers to a query, we write off the recipient. It is so easy to lose perspective nowadays.

Never assume anything; there could be a dozen legitimate reasons of a non-response.. Pick up the phone and find out–or at least try other modes of communication to get clarity. That may sound simplistic and old-fashioned, but there will be a reckoning with social media at some point, and until we are all automatons, we must speak to and see others… As often as possible.

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