How to hire a seasoned executive and not get strong-armed

Editor’s Notice: Every week Maynard Webb, former CEO of LiveOps and the previous COO of eBay, provides candid, sensible, and generally stunning recommendation to entrepreneurs and founders. To submit a query, write to Webb at

Q. I’m bringing on a new executive. I would like this particular person to achieve success, however I additionally don’t need to be strong-armed. I’m anxious as a result of this executive is older and has extra expertise, and I’m nonetheless studying how to be a chief. What do I do to preserve my authority whereas leveraging the newcomer’s knowledge so we could develop as a firm?

—First time founder and CEO of a fast-growing firm


Pricey Founder, 

I perceive your conundrum. You need this particular person’s recommendation and expertise, however you additionally need your workforce to honor and admire what you are attempting to obtain. I offers you some suggestions beneath, however first I would like to commend you on making an attempt to determine this out. Studying how to do that early is vital as a result of you’ll in the end have to do that a lot. The excellent news is that it will get simpler the extra you do it and the larger the corporate will get. 

Bear in mind, the explanation you employed this exec is since you wanted a change. Now everybody wants to be aligned about what the modifications are. The present workforce wants to be forewarned about and accepting of the truth that some issues is perhaps performed otherwise. If (or, extra possible, when) folks come to you to complain in regards to the modifications, you want to pay attention, but in addition route them again to have a clear dialogue with the brand new executive. 

The higher you onboard and acclimate somebody, the sooner they are going to ship impression and the sooner you’ll all earn the outcomes you might be striving to obtain. A successful technique contains a lot of dialogue round:

  • What does success seem like?
  • What is predicted of the brand new executive?
  • What issues are off limits? What authority stage does the brand new executive have? (What authority does she or he have to hire or hearth?)
  • What are the anticipated behaviors? What’s the applicable fashion for the tradition?
  • What do the primary ninety days seem like?
  • What issues will you every need to sort out instantly? What ought to be placed on maintain?
  • What’s the cadence for check-ins? How usually will you be assembly?

I recommend codifying the above in a doc in order that there’s one thing to return to and examine towards. Individuals interpret objectives and expectations otherwise, so this train is particularly vital. I like to ask the brand new executive to take the lead and doc what we’ve mentioned, and then to let me edit it. We’ll each ceaselessly examine again on the doc to see how issues are progressing. I like to recommend having weekly one-on-ones. These conferences additionally provide a possibility to present recommendation and to solicit enter on how one can assist them grow to be extra profitable. There’s a lot to be mentioned and imparted, however don’t neglect that listening goes a good distance. 

I additionally really feel compelled to inform you that one of the best piece of recommendation I’ve ever obtained is not to get managed into compliance. You could not but have a lot expertise main, however you created this firm—and you realize what it ought to be. Stay open minded however comply with your instincts and continue learning and continue to grow.