Human Connection Creates Potential
I worked with an organization that has been struggling on a number of levels. Turnover in leadership. Employees lacking commitment. Clients leaving in greater and greater numbers.
The CEO’s assistant had contacted me after hearing my name from a colleague at another company which I had done some training for. She reached out and explained their situation. “I think we are in trouble. My boss asked me to reach out to you to see if you could help.”
I felt like the Bat signal just lit up the sky. Robin, to the Batmobile!
The Past Instead of the Present
I spent some time visiting with their executive team and hearing all about the great things they do for their industry. The conversations were informative and enlightening. They also happened to be missing something.
Almost everyone I spoke to talked about the company in the past tense. “We used to do this really well.” “Employees used to love what they did here.” “In the past, we were all committed to greatness but now, it’s hard to know what we’re committed to.” “There was a time where we had a line around the building with people trying to work here.”
Every executive and leader I spoke to lacked a spark of enthusiasm. It was a huge red flag.
When the CEO and I spent some time together, I asked them why they had called me. She said, “Because I heard from Cynthia you have a great concept with your Ripple stuff, I thought it could help.”
My Ripple stuff? I laughed and said, “It might. But before we get to that, can we talk about the ‘stuff’ that seems to be missing here?”
For the next several hours we went through all the feedback I had gathered. I openly shared my perceptions of what I was seeing and hearing from an outsider looking in. None of it was very good. It was an open and honest conversation and at the end, we got down to the heart of the real issues she was facing.
Somewhere along the lines, the company had lost its identity.
I’ve seen it happen. A company either grows too quickly or develops too many layers of bureaucracy. In other words, people lose sight of what their real purpose is. People just lose their rudder and when leadership lets it happen, the ship may be afloat but the direction and progress has stalled.
When the CEO asked me straight out what I would suggest they fix first, I had the answer. They needed to find a way back to human connection.
Somewhere along the way the leaders stopped talking to one another. There were goals and objectives but no one was talking about how they were going to achieve them. No one seemed to interact so how on Earth would they ever achieve anything? They needed to increase their human connection with each other.
So much potential was being lost. Even I could see that.
Change Is A Necessary Human Element
The CEO admitted that over the last two years their company had lost several big contracts and had not replaced them. She had worried that this had impacted morale. That is why they raised the Bat signal.
There are no magic bullets in this kind of situation. I wish there were. However, there is always a human element to fixing something so broken.
The CEO and I discussed how a completely different approach had to happen.
- She and her entire executive team would need to get out from behind their desks and start walking and talking with their people.
- Start humanizing the executive team and asking some difficult questions about what their workforce thought needed to be fixed.
- Her executives and managers would need to completely remove their egos and not only listen to the answers they were given but hear what their people were saying in their words.
- They need to revise their bloated structure and fix it
- Decisions needed to be put back in the hands of their employees and trust they would do what was right for the company and the customer.
- Everyone in a position of authority should acknowledge how things had gotten off track and how they personally were going to fix it.
- Encourage everyone with an idea for innovating new products, services and improving customer experiences to step forward and share.
Own the Problem and the Solution
It was time to return to the entrepreneurial roots that launched this company. It was also time to address the elephant in the room. Poor leadership had been a root cause of their issues.
The CEO and her managers would need to own that publicly. They also would need to find a way to make the process of connecting, regardless of job title or responsibility, easier. By actively stepping out from behind their desks and offices and encouraging open, honest and real conversations to happen, they would be demonstrating their commitment to real change. It wasn’t just something they would do once or twice either. It had to be a commitment to do it consistently. The human connection needed to improve to see real changes.
As I share with almost every leader I work with. No matter what the problems are, the problems are yours to solve. It’s easy to blame, make excuses and shirk the responsibility of solving what is broken by ignoring it. Crappy leaders are more than happy to live in that environment and watch their companies go nowhere.
This company’s CEO was different. Thank goodness.
What do see as broken with your organization?
Which problems are being ignored?
Who is the root cause and why isn’t anyone stepping up to fix it?
If you are curious what my approach and strategies can do for your team, let’s setup a time to talk. You might just be amazed at what a little Ripple can do to change the game completely.
ICYMI: Lessons in Determination