I run a remote e-commerce company of roughly 40 employees and 3 months ago I hired my first COO, young girl who hasn't done it before and who's motivated and is bringing crazy value to the table. She recruited tens of people after she got in the role and she's been managing/growing them nicely, no complaints at all. The whole business is getting a boost as my hands freed up and she manages most of our ongoing projects and let me focus on the highest level strategy. All of that would be wonderful, if there wasn't an issue with two oldest employees on the team - leaders of two departments who feel disrespected by the way she approaches them as she tends to change things in their departments without letting them know even though we agreed on not doing that and she's also pretty rough with them, in a way I've never been. Those to employees are frustrated together and in sort of an open war with the COO, they do their best to keep their cool, but conflicts appear every 1-2 weeks and I'm becoming hopeless. Even though I told her where's the problem, she keeps on being aggressive whenever she doesn't like something and when they see it, they get reactive as they are fed up with her attitude. I see it as a mistake of the COO not being able to understand the way those two operate to be more sensitive towards her intentions with their departments as she operates from a place of power than credibility there. On the other hand, the COO is together with those two my most important team member and I can't imagine letting her go, it would dramatically slow my company down. I'm seriously looking for someone to jump on a call and discuss this situation, it's very difficult for me and I need some fresh perspective. Thanks for the help!
I work with a number of clients to improve their leadership skills and I see this more than you would think. There are a couple of ways to look at it.
More often than not, you see fallout of the veteran employees and one or both could possibly leave you. This is ok. You have prepared for this and have the systems and processes in place to cover the gap until you fill the positions and train the replacements in the shortest time possible.
The second scenario is that you are able to get all three of them in a room together to has it out. You will need to facilitate this. It will take a good deal of planning and framing to understand that no one is to blame or wrong. It is time to get your team on the same page, letting the veteran employees understand that she has been brought in to execute your strategy for the company, not a hidden agenda. I would also suggest some leadership coaching to address change management.
I'd love the opportunity to chat to you more about this and see how I can help. Feel free to set up a call with me.