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Solution Saturday: Dangling Carrots

Mary, (Fictitious name), was offered the opportunity to earn a seat at the corporate table. A current team member plans to step down in two or three years.

She assumed new responsibilities, while still fulfilling her current role.

Mary loves opportunities. But, it’s been several months and Mary is frustrated.

How to make dangling carrots work:

Fit in before making changes. You’ve been saying, “If I was in charge, I would ….” Don’t disrupt while you’re in limbo.

Make things work before making things better.

It’s not likely you’ve been charged to change things if the current leader still sits at the table.

Set a date for the go or no-go decision.

Establish progress meetings. You need more feedback at the beginning of a process than any other time. You might suggest brief monthly meetings with two or three core leaders for the first six months, quarterly after. Have the same agenda:

  1. What’s working?
  2. What could be better?
  3. What’s important?

Successful progress reports focus on observable behaviors and tangible results. Avoid ambiguity.

Hire a coach, even if you have to pay out of your own pocket. You need someone on your team who doesn’t have a personal agenda.

Get permission to attend meetings your predecessor attends. (Attend some, not all.)

Don’t pressure people to tell you if you earned the position, but set milestones for the decision. Perhaps every six months, have a conversation that answers:

  1. How are we moving in the right direction?
  2. What do you see that suggests this might not work?
  3. What’s important over the next six months?

Expect to move on, if you don’t earn the new role. It’s possible you could stay, but it’s easier to go.

What personal behaviors and qualities are important during dangling carrot opportunities?

What structures are important to help navigate dangling carrot opportunities?

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