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Plan for Success


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How to Win with Fractional Executives

If you’ve been following this blog series then you know that the topic of fractional executives is a growing conversation, especially among SMB’s, to combat the fast pace, ever-changing and very competitive landscape of business today. 

The utilization of fractional executives has emerged as a very strategic, and competitive, move for organizations that need specialized leadership and/or expertise without the commitment of a full-time executive. 

This leadership model has proven itself in recent years and affords SMBs a lot of advantages. However,  the successful integration of fractional leaders into existing teams requires careful planning and execution. 

So, in this blog, we'll look at three crucial aspects so that you can prepare for success if you are getting closer to considering bringing on a fractional leader.


Before you Get Started

If you are new to this blog series then I encourage you to start at the beginning for greater context. 

Part 1: The Strategic Power of Fractional Leadership

Part 2: Less is More

Part 3: This is Not For Every Business

Part 4: Are You Ready?

In whatever order you consume this content I hope it will help you consider all your leadership hiring options to help your business grow more effectively without risking valuable resources.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in.


Best practices for Success

These seven points are a little bit of a review but I want to offer more detail to offer practical tips, so that you can be successful if you choose to use a fractional executive.

Involve Internal Staff in Decision-Making

Be sure to Include key team members in the decision-making process.

In other words, empower your team to think like an “owner.” There are few things more honoring then inviting people into the decision making process.

Seeking input on the selection of fractional executives will enhance “buy-in” from your team.

Communicate the Value Proposition

You will want to clearly articulate the benefits of bringing in a fractional executive.

So, be honest with your team on all the benefits, even the financial ones. This will empower your team to think creatively just like you are. 

Let them ask questions and don’t discount them. Give open and honest feedback so that they can truly understand and respect where you are coming from, even if they don’t fully understand or agree. 

If you emphasize how their expertise will enhance, not replace, existing team capabilities then you will avoid people going on the offensive to protect their jobs. The last thing you want is someone sabotaging the new leader's efforts. 

You can do this by sharing success stories from other organizations that have effectively integrated fractional executives.

This kind of social proof from other companies along with relatable outcomes of the fractional leader’s experience will bring a lot of assurance to your staff.

Finally, illustrate the positive impact on team performance and overall business outcomes.

This is fun! 

Bring your vision to life through bottom line numbers and outcomes that you believe will happen as a result of this move. This will bring a lot of excitement to your team.

Establish Open Communication Channels

Anticipate and address potential concerns from internal staff.

Do your best on this, because it will show concern for your staff’s perceptions of the situation. To do this well you will need to be able to put yourself in the mindset of your staff. Which shouldn’t be too hard because you most likely have been a staff member before. 

So, recall your negative experiences around a new team member transition and determine the best course of action in this new situation. 

However, it’s not possible to anticipate all of the questions and concerns. So, provide a platform for open dialogue to alleviate skepticism.

For example, consider conducting a “town hall meeting” with all employees that provides for real time questions and responses once you share your thoughts and vision. 

After the meeting, offer a 24-48 hour period for your staff to email any other questions or concerns to you. This will allow everyone to process the situation. 

It will also ensure that you don’t get any afterthoughts down the road when things have progressed.  

Another way to establish open communication channels is to respond to requests in a timely manner.

For example, I set a standard to reply to all direct messaging within 24 hours. Which really means, the same day or the morning of the next day. 

Do this even if you don’t have the answer. Simply acknowledge you received it and when you will answer it. Keep it simple and set alerts to do it.

Your fractional leader will not be successful if you don’t respond in a timely manner.

In addition, regular check-ins to assess progress and address concerns promptly will cut down on urgent issues.

This is called a meeting cadence. These are high priority meetings with a specific agenda to create specific outcomes.

If you do this well, you will know exactly what your fractional leader is doing and accomplishing with the team. It will also eliminate back and forth email, text or phone call traffic throughout the week.

Finally, define measurable objectives aligned with broader organizational goals.

Then, once they are established simply use this opportunity to actually put the metrics into a formal “dashboard” for reporting purposes. 

As you go through this exercise, it will continue the goal setting conversation. 

Then, regularly evaluate performance against these metrics for continuous improvement.

To do this well, I suggest a couple of things.

First, ensure everyone has 24/7 cloud access to the metrics if they want to see them at any point. 

Second, your fractional leader should have two weekly meetings. One with your management team, to make adjustments, and one meeting with you, as the owner, to explain where the business is and what the next steps are. 



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Integrate into Team Culture

Facilitate introductions to key team members and stakeholders.

You are the leader, so you need to make the introductions for your new executive leader. 

Don’t leave them to do this on their own. People need to hear things from the owner to truly believe it. Especially bringing on a new executive leader.

Instead, have a separate and private conversation to give them insights and questions before you introduce the new fractional leader.

Then, restate the reason and the vision that you have for your company that they will help achieve. 

Emphasize the Importance of the Fractional Executive as a Valued Team Member

If you, as the owner, value the fractional executive then everyone else will have a tendency to do the same. 

Don’t make it awkward and go overboard on how great they are all the time and say stuff like, “we couldn’t do this without them.” 

This may sound like you are trying to be nice but it will actually put them on too high of a pedestal, and it may cause resentment from other managers who were not selected for a promotion.

Instead, talk in terms of the team and how grateful you are for each person on the team. This will fulfill everyone’s need for recognition and affirmation that they are making a difference.

This tip goes for all full-time employees as well. Make a habit of being publicly and naturally grateful for everyone on your team. Then, when an individual stands out you can highlight them in an appropriate way. 

Also, encourage participation in team activities to foster camaraderie.

In other words, treat them as you would treat a W2 employee, in this regard. If you don’t, it will slow the team building process and ultimately the results of the project. 

Stephen Covey talks about trust building in his book, The Speed of Trust: A learnable skill.


Leverage the Fractional Executive's Expertise to Up-skill Internal Staff

Good fractional leaders are also good trainers and developers of talent. 

This is another huge benefit. 

They typically have developed a system or a framework that they lead and develop teams from.  

For example, I have a framework called the 3P Operations Management Framework. It helps me systematize my leadership process as well as my team development process. 

I have produced a 12-week bootcamp training and coaching program for the key business leaders and it's the same framework that I use as I lead.

After all, if your team is not developing personally and professionally then your business will not be able to execute and grow. 

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Evaluate and Adjust as Needed

Be proactive in this effort. 

Set up a checks and balances system to give your management team the freedom to communicate with you if there are any toxic issues happening.

This will ensure that a deep rooted issue doesn’t bring down the company. 

Besides, any good fractional leader will want this type of accountability. It helps them get complete buy-in with the team and also great recommendations for the future. 

On the flip side of things, be open to suggested adjustments from your fractional executive based on feedback and evolving organizational needs.

In addition to being an expert in their field and employee developers, fractional leaders also act as consultants.  

They are uniquely qualified for this because they work with multiple businesses at a time. This allows them to "stack up" case studies to use for their future clients.

After all, if the fractional leader can’t help you be successful, then they will not have a successful business either. 

It’s a true win-win situation!


The Wrap-Up

Integrating fractional executives into existing teams requires a strategic and thoughtful approach. 

But remember, that fractional leaders want to help with this process just as much as you do.

So, if you implement these seven best practices your business can reach its full potential by getting the most out of your fractional leadership. 

The key lies in fostering a collaboration with the unique skills of your fractional executive to complement and enhance the capabilities of the existing team. Ultimately driving the organization toward sustained success in today's dynamic business landscape.

This is why you bring on a fractional executive in the first place. To help you and your business do more with less risk. 

Enjoy the Process!

Grow more. Risk Less


How I Can Help you Grow More & Risk Less

*Disclosure: I am an Affiliate partner but only because I believe in the product/service. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns about any of my affiliate partners.