So we’ve talked a bit about high performing but toxic employees recently, and that sometimes you have to tolerate one, but not more than one, and not forever.  More on that here.

A different but related topic is The Hard to Work With VP.

The VP that’s smart, gets stuff done but:

  • Constantly argues; and/or
  • Does things they’re told not to do; and/or
  • Breaks rules; and/or
  • Creates lots of issues with other VPs
  • Etc. Etc.

You’ll probably end up with one or two.  And to some extent, it’s OK.  Your job as CEO and founders is to backfill the weak areas of your VPs.  And to give them the runway to grow and improve as leaders.

And a little argument, some internal friction, etc. can be good.  You don’t want groupthink, and you want the best of your team challenging each other to do even better.  Complacency is a real risk once you start to scale.

So how much drama, how many internal issues, how many broken rules do you put up with — for an otherwise high performing VP?

My learning: 2 hours a week of your time and mental energy.  That’s the max.

What do i mean?  It’s a function of time and energy.  You should do, or at least plan to do, a 1-on-1 each week with each of your direct reports.  And try to have 6-8 direct reports max.  So that alone will take up 6-8 hours a week.

And most of your VPs, that’s all they will need.  The rest of the week, they will be executing.

But a few will need more time for that backfilling and support.  If you spent 2 hours a week with 8 VPs, that would be 16 hours a week right there!  That is too much.

So my simple rule is this: if a VP is performing well, but driving you and even the rest of the team a bit nuts, first of course talk to them.  See if you can get them to tone it down a bit.  And also see if over time, they grow and mature here.  In the end, you can tolerate some great free thinkers on your team that may break some glass.

But once that VP or other resource takes more than 2 hours a week to manage, it’s tough for that to come out ROI positive.  That means they are  consuming not just a huge block of your calendar, but likely hours of other time thinking about how to manage the issues here.  Hours you need to invest on external issues, not internal ones.

The 2 Hour Rule.

Give your great ones some room to run, and to push the team.  But there’s a line where they consume too much of the team’s oxygen.  That’s the line, IMHE.  Past that — make a change.  Otherwise, they’ll burn everyone out.

a bit more here:

Your Top 5% Employees … And Bottom 5%



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