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How to Silence Negative Employees

To turn a failing company into a breakout success, you'll need to inspire positive, creative thinking from your team.

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When your company is failing you may get only one chance to turn it around. In this five-part series of articles, I’ll show you how to execute a successful turnaround, using a hypothetical company with no specific product or service. Last week, I advised that you provide the employees with a 24-hour deadline to return a view of their job and the organizations top three objectives from their perspective. Employees that fail to complete the survey after 24 hours for no good reason should be fired. This exercise was meant to help you root out dead-weight employees.

Day Two (24 hours)

Assign everyone the same task as day one except ask them to describe what they think their job and the company’s goals should be. Victims of fate have a hard time here and will likely draft a book about what is wrong with the company and not complete the task you assigned. You do not have time for victims and their fate should be the same as their apathetic co-workers.

The results of the second survey are tallied and provide the “gap” between what the employees think they are doing and what they believe they should be doing. You will find some gems in this exercise.

Hold a meeting with everyone. Tell them the rules of the meeting. You have reviewed the results and combined them with your own observations. The meeting is not a historical look or forum to air their grievances but the first step in the company’s recovery. You will facilitate this meeting and insure that time limits are in place but you require full participation. This team and these ideas are the first step in building the new company.

Begin to present the good ideas and objectives from the day two list, include some of your own. Allow for discussion and healthy debate. Do not allow for sniping. If someone says “that won’t work” or something to that affect then ask them why. If they give a lame excuse or just reiterate that it won’t work then ask them to be specific. Do not stop your pursuit until you are satisfied that they are correct or you have made an example. You needn’t send them packing but what you can do is stop the meeting and say; “listen, we do not have time to be victims here. There may be valid reasons why something won’t work. If you have a valid concern, ask yourself if the suggestion can be modified to work?” Then proceed down your list.

Once you have identified good objectives then go back over the list of objectives everyone can support. When doing this add to each one, “great idea” and give credit to the person that presented it in the first place. Do not pat yourself on the back for your ideas and do not point out those that failed to have an idea that survived the cut.

Look for discussions and real examples of the first two days in the discussion block for this column.  Next column is the rest of week one.

Last updated: Dec 29, 2011

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




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