A Change of Leadership Is Often Required
Many companies that find
in a crisis have had some kind of a problem with leadership. To get through the crisis, attention must be paid to two aspects of senior leadership. The first is its capability to lead the company out of the crisis, and the second is its credibility. If the leadership is not capable or not credible, the company will not be able to motivate
and keep its best people.
A new leadership team is often necessary because a leadership
that has failed in the past may not generate the confidence necessary to motivate and keep critical human capital during the crisis. Moreover, the senior leadership must be in a position to challenge the way things have been done in the past. Senior leadership must not be perceived to have biases toward systems, procedures, and people that are part of the problem. The leadership team must be capable of developing a simple plan that motivates everyone’s buy-in and hard work.
Material in this section was
by William J. Hass of Teamwork Technologies.
A Direct Simple Path Forward
are to be motivated to stay for positive reasons (as opposed to fear and insecurity), they must have a clear understanding of the actions management is taking to solve the organization’s problems. The message management sends must be
and clear so that people can direct their activities and adjust them
. They need to have a sense that everyone has a purpose and a cause. If there is no clear direction, stability will be hard to achieve.
Here’s an example of what a company should not do. In response to a falloff in sales, one company’s senior leadership
an analysis of the
and arrived at the conclusion that 15 separate initiatives were required to capture lost sales and initiate new growth. When the 15 plans were presented, managers and employees became
. Without a clear, concise message, the employees didn’t understand the real priorities. They did not know how to direct their activities. In a short time, when business did not improve, people
to lose faith in management. At that point some of the best employees started to leave the company.
Borden Foods provides an example of how to communicate a
message clearly in a crisis. Borden manufactured pasta under a number of brand
and operated a manufacturing and distribution business throughout North America. Its presence in the market was threatened by diminished operating margins that endangered the viability of the business. Senior leadership knew it had to take drastic steps to save the business. After conducting a substantial analysis, Borden’s leadership focused on streamlining operating costs. The plan that senior leadership created was simple and straightforward: All
in the company would
their energies and activities toward reducing the cost to manufacture and deliver pasta to customers for one calendar year. Everything else would be secondary. The message was clear. Everyone knew where they stood, what they were supposed to do, and what results they were expected to produce during the year. Interestingly, everyone also knew that cutting operating costs would ultimately mean that cuts in staff were to come. But the reductions were aimed at a specific purpose with the ultimate benefit to all, whether or not the employees remained with the company. This became much more palatable for the work force.