September 20, 2021

Shock & Awe, and Maybe Fear, Into the Company Culture – Part 2

In addition to taking copious notes on your discussions, there are a couple of other items to watch:
• Are they nervous or have anxiety over the questioning & questions?
• What’s their body language? Is it defensive and stand-offish or willingly assisting?
• Are they being overly calm, which could indicate that they fully believe everything they’ll tell you without questioning it?

Pick up on the little subtleties of body language and tone of their voices. As you probably know, what is left unsaid can be louder than what is vocalized.

The Solution:
I will guarantee that using a shock & awe approach will work and speak so much louder than mere words alone, no matter the size of your site or company;
In the mid-90s, I managed a large national account. It had an Account Manager, 30 buildings, 20 supervisors, and well over 130 officers. The main issue was turnover, 400% per year, at least…it may have been twice that. The root causes? The supervisors were over-bearing, arrogant, ‘do as I say not as I do’, & bullies.

For me, even as a new Operations Manager, the solution was fairly simple. I offered a proposal and it was surprisingly accepted by the branch manager, who didn’t like many of my ideas. An ultimatum was given to the supervisors. My exact words? “Get better or else you’re gone, period.” Simple as that. No dancing around it, no pleasantries. No second chances and no complaining about the new changes.

Within 30 days, the officers gave their evaluation of their supervisors. It was kind of surprising how quickly the supervisors shaped up and fell-in-line. The officers rated them on the same scale and framework that the supervisors graded the officers.

The officers were not totally adept at the performance evaluations. But after questioning them and taking time to learn exactly what they meant in their evaluations, it was fairly simple to rate.
the officers were asked to rewrite their evaluations after they understood exactly what was needed for documentation purposes. Most of the supervisors were rated either average or below, which wasn’t a surprise. The only ones surprised were the account manager, client contact, and both corporate offices. Keep in mind, that it was a collaboration with all of them who would be the supervisors on each individual site, so a black mark on their judgement.

We held supervisory training classes, instructing them on the exact policies, most which were new. They were told exactly what was wanted and needed from them, by the company, client, and the officers they managed.

The Results:
In my opinion, the results were above average. We lost about half the supervisors within 6 months because they couldn’t maintain the changes, they had made during the initial 30-day period, or they didn’t want to. We also terminated about 30 officers in the same amount of time. The Account Manager was also faced with the same fate, before leaving on his own volition.

Was this a shock to the culture of everyone concerned? Of course, it was. Supervisors/managers were not normally called out and issued such ultimatums. Will this approach still work today, in any field? Yes, it will, I can guarantee it, with 99% accuracy. Sometimes you have no choice but to shock it in order for it to start operating efficiently and effectively, just like a heart attack and a defibrillator.

The experiences I’ve had in the corporate world, working within the restrictive framework of a corporate giant, was never a good fit for me or my ideas. I’ve had my greatest successes with smaller local/regional companies. However, if you read closely and begin using your own experiences and knowledge of the company, for your own situation you will be able to change the culture nearly instantaneously, which means within the 1st year. If you make it that long without getting terminated.

Yes, getting termed is a distinct possibility. Because to get hit with a Zeusian lightning bolt in the culture of your company you have to be ready to do a couple of things:
1. Break with company policies& procedures to do what is needed. Sometimes you have to break the rules in order to keep them in line.
2. Go outside the rules to go against best practices and conventional wisdom. Throw them out, because you can probably come up with better solutions on your own.

Is it easy to do this, especially in a company that mandates like an Emperor and his fiefdom, from the top down? You may think that it’s an impossible task to complete, but I can assure you that it will work given time. Take your own situation and tweak the way you implement it. The amount of time it will take? It may be weeks, months, and yes even years to totally transform it. But it can be done and it is very much worth the effort. You have to plow your own field and be willing to make people mad at you as you change things. “Both sides are mad at me. I must be doing something right!”

It happens to Anyone…Any Time…Any Where… For any Reason

I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear

Permission to share? Of course, with full attribution.
Copyright 2021 Robert D. Sollars

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