Fixing Problems in Business
Every business has issues. These issues occur all the time and often seem manageable until a business is going through a time of stress or change. Businesses merging, separating, or acquiring other companies; value systems that clash, top Executives who don’t work well together, top teams who can’t achieve enough because they meet but don’t drive results in the business, meetings that are too frequent without sufficient results – these are issues or problems, and a high achieving, ambitious Managing Director doesn’t have the time, or sometimes the knowledge, to manage these.
But people need direction, guidance, advice, and tools. In my experience, changing people’s lives because the business needs to do something differently, is a difficult thing to do if even you believe it will be for the better. Selling that to them and getting them motivated to come on board needs tools – it’s finding the right tool that matters and when you do, it’s the use of that tool that gets them to manage their issues or situation better.
Individuals are the same; they can mostly manage until the volume of demands exceeds their ability to respond and they need support to problem solve their direction or way out of the problem. If an individual doesn’t step up to the challenge or resolve their difficulties, they get stressed and businesses are the same. It pays to act. It pays to support people, and it pays to do it quickly
Situations I can help with:
- Have you a business that has merged?
- Are you a member of the same family but you want to split apart to achieve your own individual potential?
- Do you have a Top team who aren’t transparent enough with each other, so they take feedback as criticism, dont’ give direct feedback to each other, or monitor each other’s accountability?
- Have you a team that carries poor performers because it is too uncomfortable to sort the issue?
- Are you a business that could achieve more but you just can’t get your people to step up and sell more, or achieve what you want?
What I’ve achieved:
- I’ve helped people who were promoted and they’re not doing the job the way you hoped they’d do
- I’ve supported people who aren’t reaching their full potential
- I’ve altered work practices to suit a business better so that communication improves, and people are more engaged
- I’ve mentored and coached, advised and guided, trained and taught
- I’ve supported individuals going through divorce whose absence costs you both in lost productivity and morale and those you really value who’ve lost their mojo, focus or direction so they can’t work out what to do
If any of these are issues you are struggling with, get in touch, or if you want more information, let me tell you what I can do for you: –
Step One: Get Your Top Team Working Well
Too often I begin a consultancy project only to find enthusiasm is not at fault but instead the process becomes de-railed by the struggles the top team are having in agreeing the direction of the business; the strategy for it, or the speed of implementation. They may struggle to make decisions well, be accountable, or fix issues within the business and this brings further problems over time.
These issues are not only discussed at the outset of the project which is entirely relevant, but continue to permeate the process and never quite become resolved if they remain unchanged. It means that instead of being able to push for goals with a realistic chance of achieving them, internal wrangling is still going on as to the merits of what they are trying to aim for and why. Worse, a business may always have done this until it becomes the norm and Managers disengage as its simply too much trouble trying to get anything done differently.
In this stage I conduct a diagnostic, assessment process, speaking to a select group of staff including the MD, top team, Managers, and some staff.
Step Two: Simplifying A to C
The second stage seems deceptively simple; I call it getting from ‘A’ to ‘C’. Knowing what you want to achieve is ‘C’. Many people think of a vision when they think about where they want to go; the Vision for the business which is the golden image they have of their brand, market positioning and profitability.
It’s also important to try and envisage what the problems would be if you decide to stay at ‘A’. If it is a simple strategy for change then analysing the pain of staying at A might be ‘all the reasons why the current system isn’t working’ or’ the drawbacks and pain of doing things the same way as we’ve always done’. The feedback from this comes in Step Three.
Step Three: What this means
I conduct a facilitated meeting with the top team and the MD to discuss the findings and the probable outcome. If nothing changes, the outcome is often simple: more of the same, or worse and the business slows down, people leave, or they become critical and complain.
Negativity burns a business from inside-out.
At this meeting we discuss options and solutions. “What does the best version of you look like?” If you decide to take this forward, we move to step four
Step Four: The Road Ahead
Recommendations and beneficial changes are looked at. It can be raw, occasionally unpalatable (if the Leadership of the top team or MD is under scrutiny), and it can involve everyone at the top.
New communicaiton processes are considered, frequency of management meetings may change, and the cascade process through to staff may alter or the feedback loop from them to you is analysed.
I am looking for greater engagement, ideas from staff, positive enmjoyment in coming to work and better commitment. If people do leave then their exit interview is usually better, it will be an individual need rather than a typical complaint, and they are more likely to talk about you fairly and promote you to people they know. They become advocates not detractors.
Step Five: Making it Happen and Follow-up
We check in, making sure things are running more smoothly, staff are happier, and people are feeling better. Usually, this extends over a number of weekls to
tweak the existing systems, processes or the way people are doing things.
The whole intervention takes between 8 and 12 weeks from diagnostic, solutions, to making it happen and follow-up. You may think
‘will it be worth it?’
but I ask…………………..
“Can you afford not to?”
A Case Study: One member of a meeting I recently presented to had an accounting system he didn’t like; it didn’t calculate well at the end of the week in such a way that the figures could be forwarded to head office and used strategically to support the business. They had to be manually telephoned so he decided to change it and brought in a team to train the staff on the new accounts system. He decided on the package and he decided a date when it would be implemented. There was only one flaw; the Manager of the accounts department was his wife and unhappy with his methods and aims she stood her ground, and the process was de-railed.
After I was called in this person decided to change tactic; he asked her what was wrong with the current system instead. She duly obliged and told him everything her staff didn’t like about it. Then he asked her what she wanted to do about it, to which she politely suggested that a new system would be best! He pointed out the merits of the system he had already researched, but then left it to her to do her own research on this and any other package before deciding.
In the end, the same team from the external consultancy came back but this time they piloted the system with a few people his wife chose whose attitude would be responsive to quickly picking up the merits of the new system, and then they reported back to everyone what had gone well and what had not gone well. This peer to peer recommendation is a much stronger process and ensures buy-in when the roll out begins. This time the system was adopted and everyone felt consulted and involved.
The rest of the managing change process is probably intuitive and more obvious; it involved planning the strategy, knowing his people and what they needed, learning from his mistakes, and taking as many people with him as he could.
If you have a situation like this, or you have people you know who aren’t working well together or as individuals, give me a call – I can help.