The “Long-term” Director Suddenly Quits

 

Many years ago, I worked for an organization who couldn’t keep a director more than a year. In essence, the director was in charge of managing the day-to-day business of the company. Other than working into the evenings on some days, the position didn’t seem too tough, especially since much of the work was delegated to the competent staff.

During an initial meeting with the staff, the director, Mitch, made it clear that he was going to be the end of the line. The revolving door approach was over.

“Hello, everyone,” he said. “I want you to know that I’m not planning on going anywhere. I’m here for the long-term, like it or not.”

I was unsure whether to believe him. I didn’t know him well, so the benefit of the doubt seemed like the best approach.

Because my work required meeting with clients outside the office, I didn’t see him often. In fact, if it weren’t for the mandatory 9 a.m. Friday meetings, I could go a month or two without running into Mitch.

As it turns out, Mitch did stay longer than the other director. I believe he lasted about three years, which is a tremendous accomplishment. However, I think that three years doesn’t meet the definition of long-term. It would appear to me that one can claim longevity when north of seven years.

On a drive to Austin, where I was teaching a project management seminar, I had a chance to mull over reasons why Mitch didn’t last, and here’s my list:

· He had a short-time mentality, but wanted to say the right things.

· He was unaware of the expectations, and quickly realized that he was in over his head.

· He lacked the director skills. In his previous job, he served a manager role, which didn’t require the leadership skills of directors.

· He realized that working long hours wasn’t worth the compensation.

· He was ill-equipped to handle the pressures of the director position.

· He realized that it was difficult to manage employees who were self-starters, requiring little…

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