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March 13, 2018

Trump fires Tillerson. So what do Philly CEOs think and how do they fire people?

On the morning of Tuesday, March 13, President Trump ousted Rex Tillerson as secretary of state by tweet, and replaced him with CIA director Mike Pompeo, the latest in a string of advisers who have revolved through the White House.

He’s the commander-in-chief, so we asked fellow Philadelphia CEOs: What prompts you as CEO to replace someone and what kind of feedback do you require before making that decision? What are your suggestions for other managers – and what’s the best advice you ever got on management style?

Gene Schriver, CEO of GLOBO in Wyncote:

“There’s an old management adage that goes something like ‘Hire slow, fire fast.’ At least outwardly, President Trump seems as though he believes more in ‘Hire fast, fire fast.’ Before I make a decision to replace someone for behavioral or subjective reasons, I usually require a significant amount of 360 feedback, meaning I get information from supervisors, subordinates and sometimes customers about behavior that may warrant a change in that role. The other feedback we monitor is purely objective. Is that person meeting her goals or metrics?”

“My advice to other managers is to monitor both soft and hard skills. Make sure you define roles where your employees can know if they had a good or bad week by the numbers. As far as measuring the soft skills, culture is king, and you’re only going to measure that by leaving open channels of communication and feedback for all levels of the organization. The best advice I ever got on management style is to surround yourself not only with high IQs, but often more important, high EQs” or emotional quotients.

Paul Szyarto, entrepreneur and “Combat CEO”:

“Management styles of organizational leadership have a drastic effect on the culture and tempo of an operation. The management style of President Trump … is very command- and control-oriented, where he demands a loyal group of advisers surrounding him, minimizes absolute delegation, and is always watching everyone as if he is using a fine microscope to ensure his team is following his plan.

“Although this could be a management style that works with getting critical jobs accomplished when there is only one known path forward, it is less attractive for the subordinate team and typically requires a high level of maintenance from the manager. Like President Trump, many leaders, including myself, try to follow an authoritative leadership style requiring a highly loyal, trusted group of advisors, that understand the vision being set and can support the implementation of decisions.

When making changes to the team, a consensus is usually required from the board, but at times, many high-profile leaders proceed with a ‘gut’ instinct based on experience and business acumen alone to make changes. … And at times, these changes are done swiftly, and without thinking through the consequences.

It is best to always defer to the board of advisors, properly plan the decisions to be made, and communicate those changes throughout the ranks of the operation before implementation occurs. This will minimize any potential loss and provide support for the action no matter the potential result.”

Aaron Krause, president and CEO of Scrub Daddy, in Folcroft:

“Firstly, I take termination of an employee especially at the executive level very seriously. These people have delicate and sensitive information about my company and brand and before I cut them loose with that confidential knowledge, I would exhaust every other option to resolve or rectify the situation. As a last resort, I will, when necessary, replace someone but it’s usually because what they have done has dire implications to the brand and there is more damage in continuing to have them operate as a representative of the company. This includes but is not limited to theft, overt sexual harassment, and failing to comply with directives after multiple warnings. I have also been forced to replace people who constantly require direction and tasking. I only work with self starters who can not only complete a task but find their own new ones.

“I usually give someone three months to get acquainted and acclimated with our culture and high-energy atmosphere, but after that, Google is your friend and you should not be asking for constant support or supervision. I will not make the decision to replace someone solely on my own without hearing from others that work directly with that individual nor will I fire someone without having a colleague in the room with me. We never terminate an employee as a rash decision, we would already have documented multiple warnings in writing and present such documentation at the time of firing as hard evidence that we attempted to resolve the issues but unfortunately are not able to continue the employment.

“The best advice I’ve been given … know what you are good at and hire people to complement and supplement what you are not, then allow enough space and freedom for those people to be good at what they do. Really good employees don’t need hand-holding.”

Article Featured On: The Inquirer – Philly.com