Exceler8 business development adviser Allan Johnson
Exceler8 business development adviser Allan Johnson Chris Ison

Boss often poses biggest problem in a workplace productivity

SOME people are simply not cut out to run and lead a business - and that's okay. Whether they accept that or not will depend on several things, but the reality is that the owner of the business should fire them.

The difficulty is: usually, they are the owner. This makes things awkward.

Last week, Groupon's CEO was fired, after four and a half years in the top job. If you don't know what Groupon is, it's an online business based around buying and selling coupons - and was hugely popular until a disastrous stock market listing.

Groupon is facing significant competition in their market, and have been losing market share and stock value ever since.

In this case, there was clearly a separation between ownership and operational responsibility, but even the departing CEO agreed that the owners' decision was correct.

In his final memo, the CEO wrote: "You deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I'm getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance."

Clearly, accountability is an important part of owning and operating a successful business. Where the owner and the manager are the same person, excuses for a lack of performance are readily accepted. This is rarely good for the business.

Ideally, every small business should have a board of directors who can give grounded insights into the business's successes and failures, and hold the responsible parties accountable.

Even if you are a one man band, you hopefully can find a couple of suitable advisors who have your business's best interests at heart and are prepared to offer guidance and encouragement.

Acknowledging that you are part of the problem ("I'm getting in the way...") is an important first step to solving the problem and giving your business a second chance, even if this means you stepping aside - graciously, of course.

This may mean that you need to redirect your focus.

Reflection may highlight for you the best way to improvement - and Groupon's CEO had clearly reflected well on his errors.

The memo continues: "My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what's best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness - don't waste the opportunity."

It's admirable how this man refers to his shortcomings as an "opportunity" for the company, and gives them final words of encouragement.

Although sacking yourself may be a drastic move, seriously considering the issues will bring into focus what is best for your business.

If you were brought before a board of directors, what would they say?


by Allan Johnson


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