Magazine article Management Today

Wise Words: What's Your Problem?

Magazine article Management Today

Wise Words: What's Your Problem?

Article excerpt

When they're screaming for mercy, reveal the worked-out rescue plan you prepared earlier.

Q I've just taken over as the CFO of a professional services firm with about 100 partners. The business has got itself stuck on a bonus treadmill, awarding annual payouts to senior people that only ever seem to go up. The costs are now insupportable, but I am apparently the only one who thinks it's an urgent problem. How do I persuade my fellow turkeys to vote for Christmas?

A As a CFO, you'll know all about due diligence. So I can't help wondering why you didn't undertake a little before accepting this job.

You presumably take your orders from some sub- division of those 100 partners, all of whom have their snouts in the trough. And you're the young newcomer who knows nothing of the firm's rich history and fine traditions, coming in and stirring up trouble.

Your only hope is to divide and rule. There must be some of those partners, because of age and seniority, who'll be gone before disaster finally strikes.

It's pointless talking to them; they'll draw the ladder up behind them You've got to get to the others and scare them witless. Then when they're screaming for mercy, reveal the worked-out rescue plan you prepared earlier. It will certainly be painful but they'll be grateful for anything. They may not grow to love you but they'll know they need you.

Q Our new office is better appointed than the old one, has nicer furniture, swanky kitchens and plenty of meeting rooms and break-out spaces.

It's also much handier for the train. But apparently all this counts for nothing with employees, because there aren't as many parking spaces as there were.

The question of who gets one and who doesn't is causing a spectacular amount of rancour: is there a way of keeping everyone happy without having to find and pay for a load more expensive parking spaces?

A No. And the sooner you come to terms with this unpalatable truth, the better.

(Before you signed the lease on the new office might have been a good idea.)

You may be tempted to find a fudge; some complicated roster that assigns everyone a parking space but not every day. Resist it. Having to remember when you can and when you can't drive yourself to work will simply keep the wound open. There needs to be an absolute cut-off point, based on seniority: you either have a space - or you don't. …

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