“I totally believe in this concept,” Kelly Max, the currently elected CEO of the company’s U.S. operations told Business Insider.
“If there’s somebody who thinks I’m not doing my job well enough and there’s someone who could do my job better, I would absolutely want that person to be part of the process.”
Apparently, Haufe founder Herman Arnold adopted this radical approach to succession planning in 2012 when he decided he was not suited to being CEO of the German-based company while it expanded overseas.
There are obvious drawbacks to making succession planning a staff popularity contest. CEOs have to make unpopular decisions, like cutting pay when times are tough or punishing staff for misconduct or poor performance.
Even senior staff at Haufe admitted to Business Insider there were teething problems: suddenly people wanted every decision at the company to be democratic, preventing leaders from actually leading.
But Haufe has since tried to strike a balance by allowing leaders, once elected, to have the freedom to execute how they like.
Haufe claims its business is growing rapidly, while staff turnover is below 5%.
So far, though, no other companies appear to have taken its lead.