Through the business turnarounds I have instigated and been involved in, there have been some key concerns that crop up time and time again. Although every business is different in terms of the problems it faces, there are certain issues which are constant and my approach to turnaround in the first few days is quite formulaic.
An immediate requirement for me is to ascertain obstructors and bankers. In any organisation, there are people who embrace change and are willing to do what they can to aid the turnaround process – otherwise known as your bankers. Alternatively, there are your obstructors – those who are resistant to change which is vital to the turnaround and will hinder the process greatly. This task needs tackling in the first few days of a business turnaround plan; in other words, finding out who is with you and who is against you. By doing this, you can quickly establish the top team who will be sitting around the boardroom table.
With the right company at your side, priorities become clearer and the implementation of solutions are often more effective. Whether it’s the business running out of cash, customers fleeing, bad management or low staff morale, all of these issues are easier to handle when a trusted team is on board.
The identification of obstructors needs to extend beyond the board room and top team, as they also come in the form of ‘middle management concrete’. This group typically consists of managers who have been established in post for a while and may be resistant to change. It is important to identify these and filter them out; culture change can also assist in this process. If you take time to meet all the staff and source allies, in whatever role they may be doing, they will be invaluable should you need to crack the ‘middle management concrete’. ‘Attacking’ from the bottom is also as important as managing from the top. Getting shop floor staff on your side by encouraging and empowering them will really make the managers work.
This process can take a few months but is an essential step in ensuring the right staff base is formed to take the business forward.
Further practical tips on tackling middle management concrete head on are included on this blog.