The CEO came back to the office this week after a three-week vacation and I must say I am not too pleased with his return. To begin with, he spent two hours of his first day of return telling me all about his holiday and showing me photos. Most of the photos showed him doing stuff which I can only dream of doing — I cannot imagine a life of being on a yacht and popping champagne.
On the second day, he demanded a business update on what has been going on. Unknown to him, we had already met as a team to “align our story”.
Some guy in our team named Peter who has a weird title — process and systems improvement manager sent a number of us a meeting invite titled ‘Business Alignment Meeting’. This was news to me and I called him and asked him, “boss what is this meeting about?” He said, “we have to meet and decide what to tell the boss now that he is back next week?” I said, “what is there to say? The numbers speak for themselves.” Peter responded, “Josphat, sometimes your naivete amazes me — don’t you know that careers are made and destroyed by alignment?” I just had to stay mute and listen to him.
According to Peter, the numbers have not been looking good and all the initiatives the CEO started are not working. For Peter, “we need to start managing the boss so that we re-adjust our numbers and projections to save our bonus.” The minute he said bonus he had my full attention and I agreed to the meeting.
The meeting was scheduled for Friday which was good as Peter even brought breakfast to “help with the thinking.” I must say Peter was impressive in how he managed to run the meeting, starting by telling us what we wanted to achieve and how we must “safeguard the bonus”.
The sales manager went first and gave us a snapshot of how the numbers are looking. Even the daftest person could tell that they are not looking good and the sales manager said, “we had expected a rebound after the elections but that has not been forthcoming.” The HR manager then asked,” isn’t it then Josphat’s job as business development manager to tell us where to source for deals.”
I really hate it that even after all this time, I still get saddled with the title business development — after all my fights to be seen as commercial finance manager. I was not going to let the team down so I shared with them the deals which we had been scouting for the last year — the ones we had closed the ones we had not. A quick analysis demonstrated that we had only closed 30 per cent of the deals yet to be on the path of recovery we needed to close 70 per cent of the deals.
At the end of our presentations, it was very clear that we needed to tell the boss that things were not looking up and we needed to readjust the numbers. There was a lot of bickering and arguing but we finally settled on what we thought were reasonable numbers to share the boss.
So on the third day as expected the boss called for a meeting to get an update of “performance to date.” In our earlier meeting, Peter had suggested that I lead the meeting but I have learnt that being the bearer of bad news is not a good thing. So, I let him lead the meeting. By the time we got to slide 3, I could see the CEO was very worried, by Slide 5 he was livid. Just before I could stand up and present he said, “let us stop this presentation right now! how do you expect me to accept this!” This was not going as we planned.
The CEO proceeded to lecture us for half an hour saying how we, “senior managers were not displaying leadership by coming to him with problems, not solutions. Can you all go back and develop solutions.” And just like that our plan crumbled and now had egg on our face.