The “our new senior hire is a messiah” problem

A company has product issues. A new senior VP of product is hired. A company is struggling with its sales team’s efficiency. A new senior VP of sales is hired. Happens every day in our world and in many cases makes a lot of sense.

What does not make sense is to treat these new senior hires as if the (product / sales / etc) messiah personally has arrived at your company. This is easy to do. You are hurting. Nearly every change will appear as “ah good finally things are improving”. Appear.

To treat new senior hires this way is bad mainly for two reasons:

  1. Even the best person is going to take many weeks, months to have an impact at a company. By putting them on a pedestal too quickly (I have seen boards do this a lot), by all of a sudden contributing any / all changes to this person – you are really demotivating the current team. It is highly likely that any changes / progress you see (esp on product) briefly after this new person has arrived is due to stuff the existing team had been working on.
  2. It is also unfair to the new senior person just hired. They will need to acclimatise, learn, make mistakes, etc before they can really make an impact. They need time too. If you put so much pressure on from the 1st minute they are surely going to disappoint.

So when you hire a new senior person, remember to give the existing team some credit and the new girl / guy some slack.