Utilizing fractional and decentralized leadership may sound like a counterintuitive way to build a business. However, according to an interview with Joseph Frost, Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer of yorCMO, utilizing a fractional executive is an excellent way for a small business to grow or to fill an open position while you go about the hiring process.
Joseph and Adi Klevit discussed how a fractional executive could help a business, the pitfalls of utilizing this type of help, and what to look for if you hire a fractional CMO, CFO, or CXO. Below is a summary of their discussion. You can find out more by listening to the entire interview here.
What is a Fractional Executive?
A fractional executive is someone you employ part-time to fill an executive position. This CMO, CFO, or CXO has other clients they help, so your business isn’t their only client.
Fractional executives can:
– Help you build processes that work for your company.
– Provide strategy for the next year and help your team build processes around it.
– Optimize existing processes.
– Utilize metrics to give you new information about your business.
– Develop priorities in their area of expertise.
– Provide weekly updates and check-ins.
This can be particularly useful when your company is transitioning, is just starting up, or needs immediate strategic help from a C Suite-level executive.
Three Roadblocks When Using Decentralized Leadership
In their interview, Joseph and Adi discussed the many pros of utilizing a fractional executive, along with some of the roadblocks that can come up. Here are three of the main issues that can arise:
Difficulty with team building.
Because your fractionalized executive isn’t always there and “on,” team building becomes both uniquely difficult and essential. One recommendation Joseph shared was changing the weekly 90-minute meeting structure to include a different team-building exercise at the beginning of the meeting. He emphasized that the executive must be intentional in their interactions, and they must ensure they connect with their team members whenever possible.
Adapting to your company’s core processes.
Every company has different core processes and values. These core processes must carry over to the strategies developed by your fractional executive. They should not change your company’s core processes just because they remember something that worked for another business. Instead, you want the executive to learn about your business and provide metric-backed information that will allow you and them to make strategic decisions.
Having a backup plan.
Your fractional executive is human and will need to take sick days and vacations, during which time you and your team will need access to the strategies and processes they’ve developed for your company. Determining the backup and data-sharing plan in advance mitigates any unpleasant surprises.
Five Advantages of Hiring a Fractional Executive
There are many pros and cons to hiring a full-time executive, and there are plenty of pros and cons when hiring a fractional executive. Here are five advantages shared during the podcast episode:
1. Cost savings
A fractional executive is part-time, so hiring them will cost your business less money than hiring a full-time executive.
Fractional executives are helping more than one business at a time. This means they are always learning from other campaigns and strategies, which means they can apply those lessons to your business. For example, if a new marketing platform opens up and another business they are working with decides to use that platform, the fractional CMO can then apply lessons learned as they form strategies and processes for your company.
Many fractional executives are professionals who have many years – if not decades – of industry experience. They have decided to work freelance because it better fits their goals or personality, which means you gain access to a highly experienced executive without paying a high fee for that experience.
4. Fresh eyes
A fractional executive will bring fresh eyes to your business. They can ask interesting questions that may make you and your team rethink strategy, ultimately providing an excellent result.
5. Keep your team on-task
At the end of the day, the executive you hire must provide strategic improvements and keep the team on-task while structuring strategies around the business priorities. This is the work of a good fractional executive, along with any good executive you bring onto the team.
How to Determine if a Fractional Executive is Right for Your Business
As you consider the ideal situation in your company, you may wonder how you will decide whether a fractional executive is a suitable choice for your business. Here is how Joseph recommends you answer this question:
Have an introductory conversation with a fractional executive. Be prepared to share your business’s challenges and ask them frankly if hiring an executive is the right fit. Sometimes, you don’t need a fractional CMO; you need a marketing manager. You don’t need a fractional CFO; you need an accountant. Clarifying your needs and discussing what the executive can provide will give you a good idea of whether or not they are a good fit.
Find out what support the executive needs
A C-Suite executive needs a team to implement the on-the-ground work they’ve strategized. Your fractional CMO isn’t going to write your copy; they need a creative team to implement the tactics, strategies, and processes being developed for your company. So, ask the fractional executive what their expectations are around support from within your business.
Discuss their communication style
Depending on the type of executive you are hiring, you likely will get a specific number of check-ins, and they will be working for you during particular hours of the day. Find out how they will check in, in what way you and they will communicate outside of meeting times, and discuss expectations.
Ask them about their processes.
Ultimately, as your business expands, you will likely want to hire a full-time executive to fill the role of the fractional executive. The best way to ensure a smooth transition from a fractional to a full-time executive is to have well-established and accessible processes and procedures in place. Your fractional executive should have a model for building and implementing those systems so your company can grow even as they move on to another client.
Fractional and decentralized leadership is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it’s an excellent solution for growing companies that can’t afford a full-time CMO, CXO, or CFO. It is also a fantastic way to gain strategy and processes without long-term hiring commitments.
Another way to build processes is to discuss your business goals with the Business Success Consulting Group team. Schedule your free initial consultation here.