Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

What do C level officers do? 12: executive team expansion, consolidation and right-sizing 1

Posted in career development, HR and personnel, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on December 21, 2014

This is my 12th posting to a series on what C level officers of a business or organization do, that specifically emerge as job requirements for the senior leadership of an organization (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 376 and following for Parts 1-11.)

I have already been writing about executive team expansion in this series, and in this regard I note my discussions of the positions of:

Chief Strategy Officer,
Chief Security Officer (with its continuation posting),
Director of Human Resources where these managers hold more senior executive responsibilities, and
Business and industry-specific executive positions such as Director of Research and Development or of Production as they might be added in too.

The above noted positions all address specific functional area needs within the organization as they can variously arise. And in fact any position and any hiring at any level in essentially any well-run organization is carried out in order to meet specific emerging or expanding functional needs, and needs that cannot be met by staff or management personnel already at hand.

I have already noted in the postings just cited above, that new types of officer can be identified and found needed for a wide variety of reasons. And to more specifically cite some of the more common of them, this can mean:

• Addressing increasing organizational and functional complexity that is sure to arise from simple organic growth as a business scales up from its initial lean founding team.

Here, growth at least at first primarily means carrying through in basically the same functional operations but on a progressively larger and more complex scale until a point is reached where new functional area leaders are needed to oversee them.

• Bringing in specific expertise for fleshing out an overall business vision as a business builds and develops in directions that are new for it.

Here, this means expanding out into new functional areas where once again, new functional area leaders are required for that. And comparing these first two points, early stage businesses can often get by without expansion of their executive teams, even if they grow their overall workforce with a significant expansion of their non-managerial and lower level manager staffing. When a business expands in to a degree where new forms of direct experience based expertise are needed on the executive team it is essentially by definition no longer an early stage business.

• Addressing specific perceived risk management needs and as part of a remediative response to a risk management problem that has occurred.

I initially raised this reason for executive team expansion in the context of the Chief Security Officer, but this same source of impetus can serve to bring Corporate Counsel more fully and directly into the executive level strategic leadership team. And in fact specific circumstances might bring any of a range of possible functional area experts into the overall strategic planning and leadership team at least on an as-needed basis. As a third possibility that type of need can arise when a Western business is actively doing business in a country like China, where this can mean bringing in someone with extensive hands-on expertise working with Chinese businesses and government agencies, and in the context of Chinese law and its day to day practice.

• And to add one more reason for executive team expansion, this can be done to capture new and emerging sources of competitive advantage where a functional area that has traditionally been in place in the business needs to be more recognized for its overall strategic significance, and even from what might have traditionally been seen as non-strategic paperwork managers or otherwise background-supportive roles.

I added this into the overall series discussion in Part 10 with the inclusion of a Director of Human Resources in mind, as a possibility that might not make sense for all businesses, but that should not simply be dismissed out of hand by any – and certainly if they see an increase in the complexity and impact of Personnel policy and practice decisions that affect the business as a whole.

But this posting is only partly about executive team expansion. It is about senior executive team rightsizing, which can mean:

• Expansion,
• Contraction, or
• Reallocation of priorities where the headcount of C level team members might not change, but where essential titles and areas of responsibility covered by them and directly included in this team might shift.

And the second and third points of that list bring me to consider two case in point situations where non-expansion oriented change in an executive team makeup might take place.

• Contractions in the executive team can and often do happen when businesses undergo mergers or large acquisitions. That certainly holds when you start out looking at the combined total of executives who enter this process from once separate merging companies, with all of the duplications they would be expected to bring to any newly combined executive team (e.g. two Chief Financial Officers, etc.) I will discuss this scenario in my next series installment.
• Reallocations in what is carried out in-house and what is to be carried out through supply chain partnerships can take a variety of forms, and can have impact on the types of positions needed on an executive team. I will discuss some of this complex of issues too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. I also include this posting in Page 2 of my Human Resources and Personnel directory and also see its Page 1 for related material.

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