Eradicating the business problems and creating solutions
a. Underlying Problem: People talk but didn’t communicate clearly and honestly with each other and with their staff. This is understandable but deadly for a team, department and organization which is made up of people who need to communicate, leverage knowledge and execute decisively to succeed.
b. Solution: Clear, honest and frequent communication with people within and across departments as well as throughout the organization. People must learn how to bring up and work through the topics with each other that make people uncomfortable (i.e., these are the obvious white elephants in the corner that most everyone knows about but are too afraid to bring up). This will help to clarify mis-perceptions. Frequent or weekly conversations that bring up the top 3 things that have been on your mind. These must be communicated in a friendly “let’s team up on it together” manner. Most people do not try to mess up; problems associated with distrust are often related to misperception, lack of clarity or deficient skill sets–not from overt manipulation. Misperception, clarity and communication skills can be improved through training, coaching and counseling. Special note: Most all organizations have roughly 2-5% direct manipulators and another 5% who follow the manipulator. Manipulators are very good at not being “found out,” but make no mistake about it; they can create chaos and immeasurable problems for a department and company—all for their sense of entitlement and ego. Take action or bring in a professional to separate the manipulator from the people they are trying to frame. There are many ways of developing the manipulative person or helping the situation. As a last resort, the person may need to be removed. There are many options for removing the person without too much damage being done. However, it’s like playing with nitro-glycerin or putting out an oil-well-fire. You need to know what you’re doing or you could blow up the place.
a. Underlying Problem: Leadership, management, employee and organization confusion in regard to who we are as a company (does it fit the perception of the company I thought it was when I got hired or started with this company?), how I see myself fitting in (am I doing the work and moving my life/career in the direction I see for myself?), where we are going (is there a clear destination or is it foggy?) and how we are going to get there (is the plan logical, is the plan safe, can we afford it, will my career and family be taken care of if I agree to go along on this adventure?). Often people in individual departments (“silo’s”) understand where they are going, however, they don’t often comprehend how the leadership intends to help them get there as a company. This invites confusion and anxiety, which kills creativity, team work, proactive decision making and effective execution.
b. Solutions: Leadership and management must outline very clearly where the company is going. Show a united front, support one another, celebrate the diverse approaches in leadership and promote the value in having a divergent yet complimentary approach to leading rather than the weaknesses. For instance, some may be more detail oriented, methodical, and introverted (i.e., accounting, finance, programmers, engineers, surgeons etc) whereas others may be more creative, big picture and people oriented (i.e., marketing, customer service, HR, sales etc). These differences are required to create a well-rounded team but they must be explained and modeled to people on a regular basis and supported so that people can feel secure and learn from this modeling.
a. Underlying problem: Confusion is the logical cognitive part of our brain whereas frustration addresses the feeling part of us. Frustration between people, departments and divisions escalate when people miss deadlines, engage in finger pointing, favoritism, and leadership and management are deficient in their communication and leadership skills to name a few. All of this puts people in conflict with each other, themselves and their desired goals or mental images they have for themselves. This, in turn, leaves people with a sense of futility and leads to frustration.
b. Solutions: leadership, management and other exemplars of change must push through the uncomfortable and work together on difficult or uncomfortable topics. Many leaders approach business and projects from different vantage points. Therefore, I suggest leaders and managers ask questions of each other and clarify to ensure that message sent is message received. This will require that questions are asked in a respectful manner and that all parties are aware when one has pushed too far and overstepped. This requires each individual to address “stepping-on-toes” in the moment and help one another with communication skills. This will require all exemplars to employ this technique when in staff meetings so that organizational learning can take place and people develop better communication skills. When exemplars learn to co-lead and present a united front people will have faith in leadership and organizational objectives. In essence, the direction leadership is taking the company and people’s lives and careers.
4. Company Direction:
a. Underlying Problem: Most executives, managers and 99% of the staff don’t deeply understand how the divisions and departments support each other equally and build on the growth of the overall company. This causes a division in people and cultures. Employees can’t logically put the pieces together and see the overlap in what they are offering the customer.
b. Solutions: Create a very clear strategic plan and gain employee input from dialogue sessions. This will help you come to a clearer understanding of the opportunities, create the necessary buy-in and build a stronger unified team. In addition, this will help leadership make fundamental changes in how they lead, run, and manage the organization. Then leadership must discuss short and long term strategic plans frequently to ensure full across-the-board adoption. Teach, coach or counsel (i.e., employee evaluation/professional development quarterly or semiannually. To find out more about successful employee professional development evaluations contact Kelly@CorporateTherapist.com) to ensure people are making the necessary changes in their attitudes, statements and behaviors. This will ensure that organizational objectives are driven by individual support. You must Align your leadership message.
5. Crises Oriented:
a. Underlying Problem: Reluctance to address a person or situation until it has risen to a crises level.
b. Solutions: Learn to address both the business pragmatic part of your business as well as the people dynamic part. “How people interact, work and communicate” is just as important as “what we do or the tasks we complete.” This is where “executive team” communication and trust come into play. Keep these as regular topics that you talk about or bring up in your executive meetings. If you can’t bring it up with each other or in the executive meeting then you need to figure out a way to address it quickly. These things WILL come up and covertly sabotage your best efforts so struggle through them with the smaller topics and it will become easier when the bigger issues rear their ugly heads. If you don’t think or feel you can get through it or your approach hasn’t worked then retain the help of a professional trusted source. The bottom line is that I would highly suggest that you address problems sooner or when you think or feel they are smaller than what you think. Another option is to utilize trusted employees who are highly sensitive to these types of problems and use them as your “barometer.” This will improve your ability to address problems when they are smaller and more easily solved.
6. Suggestions in a nut shell:
a. You must become very clear on your top 2-3 objectives as a company. What do you want? financial security, X-percent growth each year, a good company to work for, safe growth and less risky, more aggressive growth with a higher risk tolerance, an intellectual firm people go to for answers, a more assertive sales type organization that focuses on higher volume. Choose and refine. You can’t have too much diversity or the two extremes will pull each other off course.
b. In relation to your top 2-3 objectives define where you are currently and outline the steps you need to take as a company to bridge this gap. Look at the: structural outline, leadership, process, people, culture, image in the industry, your communication and management styles etc.
c. Do you plan well but flounder upon execution? Ninety percent of the organization I work with flounder with execution. If so, then you may need to hire a professional to assist with implementation methods. You know your service, product and organization but you may simply lack skills and the necessary understanding of human behavior, social systems/dynamics and culture. You may be one piece of the puzzle away from hitting your target.
d. Look at your various business ventures or executive team as would a surgeon looking at a patient on the operating table: at the end of the day most decisions are black or white. Is the venture making money by a certain time or isn’t it? Is the executive or manager getting the job done or isn’t he/she? Is it a training, coaching or a counseling issue? If the patient losses too much blood, we must amputate the arm or lose the patient. Decide; you have to 12 seconds.
e. Most leaders and managers must address problems quicker, learn to delegate, develop people skills and listen to what people say but then do his/her own vetting of the problems and hear all sides before coming to a conclusion. Then be decisive and act.
f. Typically, your employees are asking for and need more structure and guidance from each of you. They require the organizational objectives to be crystal clear, department objectives to be precise and personal tasks to support these. i.e., what they need to do on a personal level—statements, actions, behaviors—to help everyone achieve these goals. Financial success must follow or they will lose faith in themselves, your organization and leadership.
g. Bridge the gap between the various departments that make up your organization. Administration, engineers, sales, product development, marketing, accountants, auditors etc. Basically every department must be value added toward the success of the organization. In addition, the people within these departments need become or thought of as shining stars that others can be proud of associating with. What are you as a leader doing to develop yourself, your department and your people? If they fail, part of it is your fault.
h. In most organizations there are two sets of rules or expectations. One set for a certain group and another for everyone else. You must address this disparity and take definitive steps to hold everyone to the same standard or a chasm will grow and erode people’s spirit and crumble your company.
i. Most leaders and managers need professional development with their “people skills.” These managers may be capable with tasks, numbers and other analytic job duties but deficient with people and human dynamics. At the end of the day, poor people and communication skills will sabotage their best efforts and create immeasurable problems.
j. In general, I think that everyone in management positions would benefit from some form or type of consistent management professional development. i.e., individual and organizational development, workshops, books, coaching etc.