Office Coach: Fine-Tuning a Post-Merger Leadership Team |

Q: I reconfigured my management team after two small companies merged, promoting a few very talented people from the other company. Since then, I have found that one is quite abrasive with her people, and the other does not delegate enough. How can I handle this?

A: There are two lessons here: one on solving your current problem and a second on preventing it in the future.

Start by thinking about the process you used to design your leadership team. From the result, it is clear that you have not sufficiently assessed the strengths and development needs of your candidates.

You should be commended for bringing together the leaders of the two merging parties. But it’s easy to be swayed by charisma, especially when there’s pressure to get things done quickly.

You now have serious and important work to do. You may have promoted the most qualified people, but there is a need to call them out on their deficits and empower them to address them.

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The stakes are high. The behaviors you’ve identified could undermine trust in your judgment and drive good people out of your business. Be prepared to invest time and resources, as long as you are sure they are willing to change.

Talk to each of them, explaining the behaviors that concern you. Articulate your expectations so that they have a clear vision of the desired transformation.

Hopefully they will be receptive. If they resist, be clear about the consequences, because you just need to protect your business from the damage caused by bad leadership.

Get professional help. There are many good leadership development coaches and approaches that can help you. The key will be to base development plans on thorough feedback that ensures the confidentiality of those who provide feedback. Assessments, such as those measuring emotional intelligence, could also offer valuable insights.

Then invest in ongoing coaching to help your leaders learn the new desired behaviors. They may have the best intentions, but it’s hard to change. Having an outside resource can also give them a safe space to explore the underlying dynamic that drives their actions.

For example, micromanagement or the inability to delegate can stem from past experiences that didn’t go well or a general lack of trust in others. Or it could be rooted in an “I know best” mindset. Visibility into inner dynamics can help the person move forward.

Keep yourself involved, by having frequent one-on-one meetings and staying connected so you can watch their progress firsthand. External coaches are a useful complement but do not replace the leadership you provide.

Remember that even though you foot the bill, the coaching relationship is between the employee and the coach.

You can expect to have shared goals with you, but it would be a breach of confidentiality to ask the coach to divulge the details of their work together.

Then, the next time you’re considering a high-stakes hiring decision, follow some of the steps outlined here to conduct a more thorough assessment so you’re not caught off guard. New leaders and teams will all benefit.

Liz Reyer is an accredited coach with over 20 years of business experience. His company, Reyer Coaching & Consulting, offers services to organizations of all sizes. Submit questions or comments about this column to or email her at [email protected]