CEO’s react differently when we give them our feedback on the problems we’ve identified in their organisation during our Discovery Phase. We’ve witnessed the whole range of human emotions and sometimes had to support them through the bereavement cycle from denial and anger to acceptance.
I understand the reactions. This is their organisation, it’s their baby which they’ve either founded or they’re responsible for developing and growing and we’re explaining to them in detail how things like a misaligned reward system, or a blame culture, or in-fighting between your management and departments, or poor communication, or inconsistent execution of processes are actively undermining their ability to achieve their goals. It can feel like they’re being sabotaged from within.
It might sound odd that I’m starting this article by talking about the discomfort our clients can experience from engaging our services, but I’m doing it to make the same point to you, the reader, which we make to them:
You can’t improve performance until you first find what’s limiting it.
So let’s reframe what we’re actually doing which is not just finding problems for the sake of it, it’s finding opportunities for improvement, and the more opportunities that we find, the more able you’ll be to improve your performance beyond current levels, by addressing those opportunities. So in a very real sense, having us find problems in your business will ultimately make you ecstatic.
We often compare the Discovery Phase to a medical examination in that it enables you to uncover concealed issues sooner, diagnose the underlying causes of presenting symptoms and prescribe the right treatment to improve performance. Rather than examining a patient, we examine how the mind-sets, behaviours, culture and infrastructure of your leadership, management and execution teams are affecting your capacity to create value for your people, your customers and your organisation’s bottom line.
Conducting this process in other organisations enabled us to identify and share with their leadership the key issues which were seriously affecting performance, staff retention and engagement and scalability such as:
- How the lack of consistent direction on client types being serviced led to a dilution of expertise and a resultant lack of market penetration which curtailed revenues.
- How a lack of clear execution processes on the recording of information led to endemic duplication, wastage and missed opportunities to cross sell and upsell.
- How intra-team silos reduced communication collaboration and cooperation between departments, resulting in the production and delivery of faulty products that were returned by customers, which in turn drove a lack of repeat business and a reduction in revenue
- How the lack of effective management at the departmental level led to the departure of key talent and a shift in focus away from the customer to internal politics.
These may sound obvious and easy to identify, but that’s because it’s our role do so, to cut through the complexity and noise of an organisation and present the leadership with clear and simple messages on issues and actions to address them. We bring the time, skill and inclination to make it obvious, because to the organisation, it isn’t.
If as a CEO or leader you find yourself lulled into thinking either that this is someone else’s remit to deal with or that you’d rather not know about the issues, then there are two guarantees I can make. Firstly, if you don’t make it a priority to focus on these issues then no-one else will and secondly, not identifying the issues doesn’t mean they don’t exist, they’re still undermining your performance, you just haven’t identified them yet.
The most positive step you can take as a CEO or leader is changing your own mind-set towards bad news and issues – stop shooting the messenger and start embracing issues as opportunities, because the sooner you identify them, the easier they are to address.
Achieve Positive People Solutions have provided solutions to organisations across sectors including staffing and recruitment, technology, engineering, media, manufacturing, healthcare, insurance, logistics, retail, construction, the public sector and professional sports clubs. For more information on how we can support you to find and address all the opportunities for improving performance in your organisation, please contact Robert Sherry or Mary Sherry.