“Morale is poor, turnover is high, and our performance has been dismal. Can you fix all this for us?”
Leadership has its challenges, and there’s none more daunting than walking into a difficult “turn around” situation.
The expectations are high and the pressure is on, but the rewards are great for the leader that accepts this call to duty, and succeeds.
So let’s assume you say “yes” to the question “can you fix this“? What’s your game plan?
There are six keys to keep in mind as you dive in:
1) Patience (Remember the Flywheel) – Pushing too hard and too fast has sunk many a turn-around; spend the first few weeks and months asking a lot of questions, and listening and learning. Remember that this task is like pushing a flywheel – it takes a lot of effort for a sustained period of time to get it moving, slowly but surely, but once it does, the collective momentum will carry it to greater and greater speed.
2) Authenticity (Stay Human) – Turn-arounds are NOT a time to stay in the ivory tower; get out of the office and into the fray, interacting with as many teammates as possible. Be HUMAN. Make sure they have the resources and tools they need to succeed. Do their jobs for a day. Care about their welfare. Tell them WHY their jobs are important. (Maybe even have a little fun out there..)
3) Transparency (Build Trust) - Two of the biggest morale killers are broken promises and doublespeak; in a turn-around, a new era of truth-telling must be established, where good news AND bad news flows freely (and unambigously), and the value of integrity is elevated to utmost importance to an organization. The leader must set the tone, immediately, and never look back.
4) Consistency (Fairness Rules) - The leader who shows up on day 1 must be the same one on day 2, and beyond. Once the “new way” to success is in place, all the revised rules and processes are established, and exectution begins, the leader needs to have a steady hand on the wheel, changing course only when necessary. And most importantly, the leader operates with a keen sense of fairness that builds real credibility with the team.
5) Transference (Share Responsibility) – The leader knows that to make a turn-around work, there must be a “transfer” of the new vision and culture to all the other leaders, managers and front-line supervisors. Recently I saw a quote by Fred Hassan, chairman of Bauch & Lomb, that summarized this well – “If they (managers & front-line supervisors) start to see themselves as ambassadors as opposed to shop stewards, it totally changes the productivity of the whole organization”.
6) Measurement (Milestones Matter) – As the flywheel starts to turn, there must be relatable ways in which the team can measure their progress. As so wonderfully stated by author Patrick Lencioni, “Employees that can measure their own progress or contribution is going to develop a greater sense of personal responsibility and satisfaction than those who cannot”. Once that happens, then things really start to move forward faster.
So go ahead, say “yes” to the question. Take on the challenge, and heed these 6 keys. Be a success.