Turnaround specialist Glen Blickenstaff, in the last of five articles, explains how to turn a failing company into a breakout success. This week he offers a five step process to maintain momentum.
There has been a lot of talk about CEO skill sets. For the turnaround CEO, building a foundation for growth is very different from keeping the company alive. As you reduce chaos in the business and the company’s achievements are measured in weeks, months and years, look for ways to sustain momentum and build your platform for the future.
Expectation Leadership is the tool we use. It keeps strategic and tactical plans as well as job descriptions and performance appraisals from being disjointed.
a. Keep it simple, three to five strategic objectives. In a dynamic organization they could change but you should look at it like the constitution, changes should not be taken lightly. By keeping them simple everyone in your organization should be able to recite them. This becomes your mantra.
a. Don’t get carried away with a three-year plan just yet, stick to one.
b. I use the term Tactical Plan instead of Business Plan to clarify the difference between strategic and tactical. Changes here should come more easily than the strategic plan. Frequently it’s an advantage of small business to maneuver and change based on the dynamics of market conditions. Review this monthly.
3D Job Descriptions
a. The best way to start this process is to have the employees write their own. Put them through peer and even customer review if you can. The “3D” refers to; input, output and throughput. For each item that the employee puts on the job description it should tie back to the strategic and tactical objectives, if not start over.
b. Now it gets fun. Take the job description and turn it into the employee’s performance review document. I never understood why these two documents weren’t one and the same. You can use a point scale or go, no-go, along with comments and add them right to the job description. A new employee signs it and then gets to see it every time they are reviewed.
a. Now we make sure the employee is rewarded for achieving objectives from their job description that support the company objective. Annual increases and reviews are generally frustrating for everyone, instead this allows you to reward on whatever time scale you want. Note: Make sure to have your legal counsel or HR review to insure you meet FLSA requirements and don’t inadvertently create a disparate wage situation.
a. I always tell people you’re going to have a climate or company culture whether you lead it or not. So lead it! I prefer an open climate that doesn’t measure performance on the number of hours worked, but rather the output and throughput of the job. The only way you can lead the climate is to measure it. There are a number of ways to do that so find the one that best suits your needs. I simply use the same survey questions the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) uses to identify the best places to work.
GLEN BLICKENSTAFF is the CEO of The Iron Door company, which makes high-end doors and windows. Glen has a track record of turning around and managing retail, building and financial companies. @glenblickenstaf