Some changes are happening at my last company and someone pointed me to this timeline a Wikipedian compiled of it, on which, I’m an early entry.
Despite understandable omissions and commissions , what a huge effort that must have been! I continue to be impressed with the dedication of the Wikipedian community.
The other day, a friend and co-worker wondered, “Could you imagine what would it’d be like if we were still there?” I responded, “I don’t since I would have resigned long before.” So I had only enough overlap with the outgoing Executive Director to form some suspicion, but not enough to say anything beyond what I’ve already said.
Instead I want to use this moment to comment on her predecessor, someone I did work long enough under long enough to form an opinion, Sue Gardner. I’ve never met anyone who can read so much about an organizational issue from such a small clue as Sue to the point where I chose intentionally each of my interactions with her. She was extremely thoughtful—as in putting a lot of thought into something—and expected and appreciated the same from others. Sometimes she’d make an observation in an area that I, who was working daily on it, had missed. When you are a chief executive who has less time for anything than anyone else, I learned from her these are essential skills to being a good one.
When she left she spent a number of hours with us to discuss hiring practices. One thing she said then was you should check yourself in a new hire because there will be no time you’ll feel better about your hire than the day you hire them.
That’s something that can be applied directly to replacing someone and indirectly through the ripples created by any hire. Too often people get excited about what a new person brings or might bring instead of wondering what will be lost by people leaving or being displaced. Instead of focusing in what you’ll be gaining with a new hire, ask, “What skills did the outgoing person have that they were great at?” Those are the ones your organization will definitely be losing with the person incoming.