One of the biggest challenges with any team is difficult and disruptive team members… It’s not simply that they are on the team, it’s that we don’t know how to effectively deal with them. Too often our solution is to ignore the problem and hope it gets better. Or we say something to them in a way that creates another problem, they become angry or upset; and doesn’t solve the problem we set out to correct in the first place.
Do you have to suffer in silence or is there any way to effectively deal with these difficult and disruptive team members? Are these people simply thorns in your side, and in the side of the rest of the team or do they have something to offer ??
What Does Disruptive or Difficult Mean ?
Depending on the makeup of the team difficult or disruptive can be different. For example: Most people would agree that someone who constantly is negative and tells everyone why the idea won’t work is difficult. And most would concur that a team member who constantly interrupts others while they are speaking is disruptive. Yet in some situations team members that never voice their opinion are viewed as difficult as they aren’t contributing and on teams they would be seen as easy going. For today’s article though I want to use some common language so when I get to the ‘how’ part it will be more valuable.
Disruptive means to cause a disturbance or break (as in communication or actions). We often refer to people who are disruptive as troublemakers, unruly and distracting. Difficult means hard to deal with or satisfy. We use words to describe these people such as challenging, demanding, problematic, unbending or defiant. In both cases they are seen as individuals who cause problems, hinder progress or obstruct advancement towards a goal.
Are These People Able to Change ?
Maybe they can and maybe they can’t but that isn’t the right question to ask. The truth is we can’t change another human being. As parents we might have some influence on our children but after a certain age even our influence on them wanes. We can however change ourselves and when we do our interactions with other people will be different. Then as a result we may see some changes in others.
Instead of focusing on asking if they can change perhaps we should consider TWO different questions :
- What contribution can these people make ?
- In what ways can I work with them more effectively ?
What Contributions Can They Make ?
I know it’s tough to imagine what contributions these difficult and disruptive team members can make but I promise you they do. Consider the following :
- Different point of view – Having someone with a different viewpoint opens the team up to consider other options they may not have considered.
- Points out possible challenges – It’s easy to move forward without considering the challenges or potential risks. Having someone who brings these to the conversation can save the team problems later on.
- Stirs the Pot – Complacency can be the death of a team. When someone is stirring the pot it helps gets others engaged.
- Quality standards – The demanding team member can actually bring forth a higher standard of quality and end result.
Every team member can make a contribution if we let them. It may be that we have to first reassess how we see them before we can appreciate their contribution.
Managing These Folks:
Sometimes we have to ask ourselves why they are difficult or disruptive. Maybe they feel like they aren’t heard. Perhaps they don’t know how to get their ideas across so it’s a communication issue. If we take the time to consider why they are acting the way they are we may find a new way of thinking about how to manage them. Here are some other ideas to help you :
- Set ground rules for the team. Explain what is acceptable in terms of interruptions, sharing ideas, how to communicate etc. This not only helps minimize the problems, it gives you a place to go back to when problems occur. You can always remind them of the ground rules.
- Give everyone a chance to share. Sometimes it’s just about being heard so allowing everyone to share, and making sure everyone does reduces the need to be disruptive.
- Use my “wait” idea. I have a sign I created that is a stop sign with the word ‘WAIT’ on it. That stands for ‘why am I talking’. I often take it into meetings and tell people they should consider this before speaking.
- Discuss the problem off line. If someone continues to be disruptive or difficult you have to take this conversation out of the meeting. Have a one-on-one meeting and tell them what you see and what you want differently from them.
- Don’t give up. It’s easy to simply talk over them or interrupt them and move on to someone else. Resist that tendency and keep working with them. Don’t assume one or two or even three conversations will resolve the problem. There is a point where you may have to make a change but don’t give up too easily.
Managing difficult or disruptive team members starts with how you see them…Have you already decided they aren’t worth your time or they can’t change so why bother? Are you seeing them as adding no value and only as problematic and an obstacle ? If so you are part of the problem not the solution. Start by shifting your own beliefs and see what happens as a result…
(Linda Finkle, a Certified Coach, helps get rid of the elephant lurking in the corner of your business to clear the way so you and your staff can tackle real business challenges. She is also a specialist at improving your ROI at any cost, creating clear communication and helping you and your employees enjoy your job. For information, go to http://incedogroup.com)
What executive skills are most prized by companies today? How has that array of skills changed in the last decade, and how is it likely to change in the next ten years?
To find out, I surveyed senior consultants in 2010 at a top-five global executive-search firm. Experienced search consultants typically interview hundreds (in many cases thousands) of senior executives; they assess those executives’ skills, track them over time, and in some cases place the same executive in a series of jobs. They also observe how executives negotiate, what matters most to them in their contracts, and how they decide whether to change companies.
Here are the SEVEN “C-level” skills & traits companies prize most :
- Leadership – The skills cited as most indispensable for C-level executives—not just CEOs—are those that jointly constitute leadership. One consultant described the search for a chief information officer in these terms: “Whereas technical expertise was previously paramount, these competencies [being sought today] are more about leadership skills than technical ones.” The consultants differed on the type of leadership most highly in demand, mentioning “inspirational leadership,” “leadership in a non-authoritarian manner that works with today’s executive talent,” “take-charge” leadership, “leadership balanced with authenticity, respect for others, and trust building,” and “strategic leadership.” Ethical leadership was also mentioned. Some consultants observed that the type of leadership sought depends on a company’s specific needs. “Visionary leadership is frequently mentioned when a company is on a new path, adopting a new strategy, or at a tipping point in its growth,” one respondent noted. Another said, “Driving an organization or function to a higher level of performance, efficiency, or growth requires a ‘take-charge’ leadership.” One consultant predicted that firms in 2020 will seek the “same [attributes as in 2010] but with an even greater appreciation for the intangibles of leadership and [for experience] having led a business through tough times.”
- Strategic thinking and Execution – “Strategic foresight”— the ability to think strategically, often on a global basis—was also frequently cited. One consultant stressed the ability to “set the strategic direction” for the organization; another equated strategic thinking with “integrative leadership.” Others emphasized that strategic thinking also calls for the ability to execute a vision, which one respondent called “operating savvy” and another defined as “a high standard in execution.” One consultant pointed out that strategic thinking is a relatively new requirement for many functional C-level executives, and another noted that the surge in attention to strategic thinking occurred in the decade 2000–2010.
- Technical and technology skills – The third most frequently cited requirement for C-level executives was technical skills—specifically, deep familiarity with the particular body of knowledge under their auspices, such as law, financials, or technology. Many respondents stressed technology skills and technical literacy. “A C-level executive needs to understand how technology is impacting their organization and how to exploit technology,” one respondent asserted. Others stressed financial acumen and “industry-specific content knowledge.” In contrast to popular wisdom, many technical skills are not declining but increasing in importance.
- Team- and relationship-building – Many consultants emphasized team-related skills: building and leading teams and working collegially. “A world-class leader must be able to hire and develop an exceptionally strong leadership team—he/she cannot succeed as a brilliant one-person player,” one asserted. Another said that today’s executive must be “more interested and skilled in developing his/her team, less self-oriented.” Executives no longer sit behind closed doors,” one consultant said; instead they must be “team-oriented, capable of multitasking continuously, leading without rank, resisting stress, ensuring that subordinates do not suffer burnout—and do all of this with a big smile in an open-plan office.” One consultant characterized the entire company as a team and described the executive’s job as “leading and developing the company’s team, from the leadership down to the ‘troops.’”
- Communication and presentation – Collectively, the consultants said the ideal C-suite candidate possesses the power of persuasion and excellent presentation skills—which one consultant called “the intellectual capability to interact with a wide variety of stakeholders.” This is a tall order because there are many more stakeholders now than before. Speaking convincingly to the concerns of varied audiences— knowledgeable and unsophisticated, internal and external, friendly and skeptical—calls for mental deftness and stylistic versatility. Some consultants emphasized that a strong candidate should be “board-ready”; others emphasized the ability to “influence the direction of a business and the front office” and to achieve “organizational buy-in.” And C-level executives must also be adept at communicating externally. “Presentation skills have become key to success,” one consultant said, “and will continue to be of increasing importance in the future, as the media, governments, employees, shareholders and regulators take an ever-increasing interest in what occurs in big business.” Another warned that executives need to be “good at making presentations in front of a ‘tough audience.’” Finally, C-level executives must be adept in receiving and synthesizing information.
- Change-management – Virtually unacknowledged and under-appreciated until quite recently, change-management skills are in growing demand. Consultants noted rising demand for an executive who is a “change driver,” able to “lead a transformation/change agenda” and capable of “driving transformational change.”One thoughtful consultant said that, as a job specification, change management typically has less to do with driving drastic firm-wide change than with being at ease with constant flux. “This requires a ‘change-agent’ executive,” he noted, “motivated by a continuous-improvement mindset, a sense of always upgrading organizations, building better processes and systems, improving commercial relationships, increasing market share, and developing leadership.” Another consultant noted that a firm seeking an executive who can engineer change often opts for an external candidate on the grounds that an external hire can bring “a new skill set that can lead to significant change and growth.”
- Integrity – Although not skills per se, “Integrity & a reputation for ethical conduct” are highly valued, according to the consultants we surveyed. One said that hiring companies want “unquestioned ethics.” Another remarked that ethical conduct was not explicitly sought in the past but would be front and center going forward: “Personal integrity and ethical behavior . . . are far more important now because of the speed of communication.” Another said that “organizations are more attuned to the ‘acceptability’ of senior hires, be it to regulators, investors or governments.”
We also asked the executive-search consultants how the most highly prized C-level skills have changed over time and what further change they foresee. The first clear theme that emerged is the importance of a global outlook and meaningful international experience. Already the foremost emerging skill over the past decade, a global orientation is apt to become even more dominant going forward.
Another striking theme was the demise of the star culture. Being a team player—working well with others—matters more and is expected to grow in importance. Team skills and change-management skills tied for second place among those considered crucial today but largely ignored ten years ago. One consultant shared a telling anecdote: “Recently I was called to find the new CEO of a local branch of an international company. The former CEO was fired because his management team decided he was too bossy and did not allow them opportunities for growth. They brought these concerns to the top level of the company, and the decision was to replace him.”
Many consultants said that technical skills—once the prime goal of executive searches—are still important but have become merely a baseline requirement. Because the repertoire of obligatory executive skills has grown in scope, some said, both hard and soft requirements have expanded accordingly. Executives who neglect their technical skills might be passed over. In fast changing global economy, dated technical skills can hamper resource-allocation and strategic decisions.
What skills do you think executives need to be successful now and what skills will they need in 2020? What are you doing to be ready to be hired in ten years? We would love to hear; please share your ideas with us..
“Frontier markets” can be considered “a subset” of “Emerging Markets”, and they are typically economies at the lower end of the development spectrum..!!
Frontier markets remain in focus for the Templeton Emerging Markets Group in 2014, and my team and I have spent the early part of the year exploring potential investment opportunities in a number of them. I generally spend about a third of my time in these markets, with Dubai, Eastern Europe and South Africa serving as hubs for access.
While the Emerging Markets we visit today, were once considered niches or “exotic” investments when I first started investing in them in the late 1980s, many investors are now familiar with them. Many frontier markets are yet to be fully discovered by the investment community, and we believe they represent the next tier of investment opportunities within the overall emerging-markets universe. Frontier markets are located around the globe, in Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central and South America, and Africa. We think there is good potential for frontier economies to forge ahead in their development this year and beyond.
Emerging vs. Frontier: The Distinction –
There are a number of factors that go into qualifying a particular market as “developed,” “emerging,” or “frontier,” and different organizations or index providers may have slightly different criteria. Emerging-market countries include those considered to be developing or emerging by the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the United Nations, or the countries’ authorities, or defined as countries with a stock market capitalization of less than 3% of the Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) World Index.
Frontier markets can be considered a subset of Emerging Markets, and they are typically economies at the lower end of the development spectrum. They are the generally smaller, less developed and less liquid emerging-market countries that are considered to be in the nascent stages of development.In essence, they represent what some Emerging-market countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China were 20 to 25 years ago. By offering investors the ability to invest in a “younger generation of emerging markets,” frontier markets may provide an attractive investment opportunity, in our view. The MSCI Frontier Markets Index provides a handy benchmark for investors and MSCI has its own criteria to determine classifications, but they are not something we strictly adhere to when making investment decisions for our portfolios.
Frontier Markets charting their Own Course :
Frontier markets have caught the attention of many investors, as frontier markets tend to be more exposed to their domestic economies—many of which are developing rapidly—as opposed to the global economy, which is growing at a much slower pace. Moreover, positive local developments such as the implementation of reforms have further benefited many individual markets.
Overall, we believe there have been a number of factors supporting frontier markets’ long-term potential. These include high levels of economic growth, positive local developments such as reforms and relatively low levels of consumer and sovereign indebtedness, as well as what we consider attractive valuations, in our view. In addition, we believe undeveloped natural resources, low-cost labor, favorable demographic trends and potential technological catch-up could continue to support these markets.
Focusing on some individual frontier markets, the United Arab Emirates has been benefiting from improving local economic data and the prospect of rising international trade flows through the port of Dubai. The recent award of the 2020 World Expo to Dubai is likely to provide extra impetus to an already solid real estate market, in our view. Improving economic news from the eurozone and some positive local developments supported a number of frontier markets in Europe, notably the Republic of Serbia and Bulgaria. In Asia, Pakistan has benefited from an improving growth outlook, a new International Monetary Fund loan program and hopes that planned economic reforms will be pushed through in 2014.
Current Valuations :
At the end of January, valuations in frontier markets generally remained attractive to us. As you can see from the table below, the MSCI Frontier Markets Index was trading at a trailing price/earnings ratio (P/E) of 13.6 times, much lower than the 17.4 times P/E for the MSCI World Index. In terms of price-to-book value (P/BV), frontier markets look attractive to us at 1.8 times, versus 2.1 times for the MSCI World Index, and the dividend yield was much higher in frontier markets at 3.6%, compared to 2.5% for the MSCI World Index. Further, some individual markets are even more attractively valued, in our opinion. Thus, we have been able to find some cheaper stocks that we think are better valued. Of course, this is not the case for every single company operating in frontier markets, but it is certainly true for many of them, in our view. Hence, we feel it is important to undertake extensive research and study each individual company rather than generalize.
Frontier fundamentals appear Favorable :
Investors have become increasingly open to new investment ideas and ways to diversify their portfolios. This trend is especially the case now, in our view, as relatively slower growth rates in major economies globally and low bank deposit interest rates have led many investors to look elsewhere for investment opportunities.
In our opinion, frontier markets remain among the most exciting investment opportunities for global equity investors. While the characteristics of frontier markets differ from region to region and country to country, as a group they share a number of traits. Similarities have included high levels of economic growth and relatively low levels of consumer and sovereign indebtedness that open up the potential for growth to accelerate, as well as valuations that we believe often have stood below the levels of equivalent businesses in developed and maturing emerging markets.
We believe internal sources of potential growth, including undeveloped natural resources, low-cost labor, favorable demographic trends and potential technological catch-up, could also continue to support the development of frontier markets going forward.
” The Real-estate sector, whose contribution to the country’s GDP is “second only to Agriculture”, has been witnessing “growth with quadrupled property values” over the past decade”…
However, this un-organised sector bears the brunt of the economic slowdown leading to subdued sales, piles of unsold inventory and builders going bankrupt.
In the past decade, un-organised realtors could thrive and even flourish due to the high appreciation of property and a steady rising demand. This growth however, attracted a large number of players, both professional organisations as well as smaller outfits.
This spike in real estate development has the buyer spoilt for choice. Realising this, realtors (big or small) are trying to move up the totem pole by streamlining their operations.
Deserve Builders and Developer Ltd., a realtor based in Mumbai, recognised the need for the development of a leadership pipeline and streamlined processes. The company assessed and identified key competencies that their people need to imbibe, along with the company values and culture.
Deserve has partnered with a Business Consulting, a management consulting firm in Mumbai, for a large scale change intervention to restructure their entire systems and processes.. This will include intensive sessions where their managers will be assessed on and then trained to improve their leadership competencies.
Another noteworthy case is that of The Wadhwa Group, a leading real estate developer, who is recognized for their excellence in design and quality.
The realtor realized that by delivering an exceptional customer experience, they could differentiate themselves from other builders. With this goal in mind, The Wadhwa Group partnered with Acumen to help them articulate and develop a world-class customer experience. Acumen first designed and conducted a customer experience survey with the current, past and potential customers of The Wadhwa Group. The survey helped understand their needs and perceptions and identify possible solutions aimed towards enhancing the customers’ overall experience. With these insights Acumen went about designing a customer experience and rolling it out at the various customer touch-points of The Wadhwa Group.
“This partnership with Acumen intends to ensure that customers experience the quality of service delivered by iconic brands across the world. Though the real estate industry is gradually gaining acceptance, important aspects of customer service like transparency and governance have been overshadowed. By taking this step, we want to redefine service parameters for the real estate industry. It is our endeavor to create every engagement with our brand, a lasting experience for an individual”, said Srinivasan Gopalan, COO, TheWadhwa Group.
“The average Age of Home-buyers has reduced. Moreover, the Indian customer is exposed to elevated levels of customer experience in all product categories and has a larger selection to choose from, especially in the real estate sector. Intent is to bring about a sea change in the way real estate is sold…”
“Site location, scale and size are the primary factors defining the development of every shopping centre”…The site for shopping malls should be selected on the basis of parameters such as :
1. Accessibility and transport connectivity by car, public transport and service vehicles, the lack of which affects not only customer footfalls but also the efficient delivery of goods and services to the stores located in the mall. Traffic before and after the mall also should be considered.
2. Visibility from approaching roadways, and proximity to a good road network that also connects the physical catchment with its potential residential population.
3. Size and configuration of the site, since an optimal size is necessary to achieve critical a mass catering to the catchment area. In the case of mixed-use developments, the various segments should complement each other and work together. Also, attention must be paid in some cases to the ability of the site to offer future expansion if required in the long run. In the case of mixed use developments, appropriate circulation of all asset classes is important.
4. Topography and shape of the site, with supporting infrastructure (a regular shape providing maximum space utilization is a preferred parameter while selecting a mall site).
5. Current and future competition and its impact, the current and anticipated supply of retail space and the performance of these spaces should also be evaluated.
6. The study of the catchment, its demographics and consumption patterns are vital, as it is sales and consumption that will bring in the rentals. Most other costs such as construction and land are controllable and in most cases fixed.
In short, a site is ideal for a mall if it has the right mix in terms of the following parameters : “Location, Accessibility, Visibility, Market Potential, Right Size and Topography”…
Site selection also depends on macro as well as micro location parameters which vary according to the market dynamics prevailing in a particular city. The price of land and the financial feasibility of the project play an important role in site selection. Retail performance and retailers ability to pay rent is predictable regardless of city and location, so the final potential of a site (and the revenue generation of a mall) can be guesstimated.
The format requirements for malls tend to differ when we compare Tier I to Tier II and Tier III cities. Since the retail markets of Tier II and Tier III cities tend to be less mature, retailers sales performance is lower (as is the number of interested retailers) and the size of stores is smaller. This results in smaller potential for mall developments in tier II and tier III. Malls in most Tier II and Tier III cities need to be close to the city centre or dense catchments, as local travel is usually a deterrent for customers.
Challenges in Site Selection & Acquisition :
Regardless of which city one speaks of, there tend to be challenges for mall developers when it comes to finding sites in suitable locations at a reasonable price. In the first place, land costs in India are quite high – especially in Tier I cities. Residential prices over the last five years have grown significantly, making retail real estate a sub-optimal asset class. This affects the financial viability of and returns for retail projects. Added to the viability issue, retail also needs higher access to drive footfalls, and therefore close to dense catchments.
Shopping malls also need to be limited to a lower number of floors. This requires higher floor plates, and there are constraints of use of FSI for developers. It is difficult to find larger land parcels within city limits and then effectively utilizing the potential of the land. In some cases, traffic management and accessibility of the site is a big problem for mall developers even if the land is available. In other cases, the support infrastructure may not suffice to support heavy footfalls. Also, the approvals and environmental clearances required for retail developments can pose a challenge for mall developers.
Making The Best Of A Location :
While location is a fundamental consideration in selecting s site for a shopping centre, a major challenge can be addressed if the size and tenant mix are formulated according to the location. In most cases, the more perplexing changes can be overcome by adopting a structured and planned approach for development, execution and management of the mall.
If access to a particular site is not convenient, the mall developer can attract shoppers by adopting practices such as providing shuttle service, reward programs and attractive marketing promotions.
Facilities provided by a shopping mall – such as parking, conveniences and other comforts – also play a major role in attracting shoppers. The proportion of quality mall supply in India is still low, so a mall developed as per international standards (with good design and tenant mix) will invariably meet with success. Here, it must be noted that successful shopping centres do not need to be large; an appropriately designed smaller project in the right catchment which is tenanted adequately for the catchment can also be successful.
Also, a mall can be converted into a destination shopping centre by incorporating critical mass and retail categories that are ideal for the catchment population and the trade area. To achieve this, it is important to identify the characteristics of the potential shoppers in terms of age, income and preferences. This is helpful in catering to the existing gaps in terms of retail and leisure offerings within the catchment.
The Importance Of Market Research :
A structured and planned research study is invaluable when it comes to creating a shopping centre with the right size and right tenant mix. After reviewing the location, the optimal size of the shopping centre can be established so as to arrive at the retail size that a particular site can sustain.
A macro-level demand and supply analysis of retail according to the catchment, demographics and the availability of supporting infrastructure helps in assessing the size of the development which can be supported by demand.
It is acceptable to make a shopping centre mix aspirational for the location, anticipating changes that the catchment will undergo over the medium term of 5-10 years. This is the period wherein the shopping centre will become operational and stabilize. However, completely ignoring the current requirements of the neighbourhood and the catchment is dangerous.
Turning A Non-Performing Location Around :
If the right positioning and trade / tenant mix are arrived at, a shopping centre can work even in a non-prime location. If the location for a mall is not very favourable, the trade and tenant mix can be accordingly optimized to increase the overall viability of the centre.
In other words, a location with challenges can be turned around if the mall to be developed there takes into consideration the existing micro-level market dynamics, and if it provides the retail categories which are missing in the targeted catchment.
If a proposed shopping centre is able to fulfill the demand of all the customer groups and can provide a differentiated retail offering, it can become successful in spite of the location challenges. If parameters such as size, positioning and tenant mix are conceptualized optimally, and if it takes into account the competing retail developments, a shopping centre will be successful in the long run. Also, strategically conceived, regular promotional activities can ensure a steady footfall.
When a mall identifies a unique selling point or differentiating factor, there can be a significant revival in its fortunes. For example, Ambience Mall Gurgaon offered critical mass to shoppers and provided them with categories that other retail developments did not give them.
Ambience Mall Gurgaon positioned itself as a destination mall, pulling crowds not only from Gurgaon also from Delhi. A wide-ranging tenant mix right from fashion to home furnishing and appliances to entertainment and leisure attracts large numbers of shoppers. Ambience also provides shuttle services to its customers, thus overcoming the challenge of accessibility for shoppers who need to come from distant locations.
A note of caution on the design and circulation is appropriate. Retrospectively compensating for design and circulation errors is an expensive proposition, as modifications to the layout and vertical circulation entails significant costs.
However, if the intention is to revive a shopping centre, it is often worthwhile to go the extra mile to correct such errors since such changes can significantly increase the performance of the centre…!!
” Even good-managers can miss the “early signs of Distress”, says McKinsey’s Doug Yakola. The first step is to acknowledge there’s a problem”…
“ I’ve seen my share of boiled frogs,” says Doug Yakola, comparing companies in crisis with the metaphorical frog that doesn’t notice the water it’s in is warming up until it’s too late. As the chief restructuring officer or CFO of more than a dozen turnaround situations over nearly two decades, Yakolahas witnessed firsthand how managers back right into a crisis without recognizing that their situation is worsening. “ They’re not bad managers, but they’re often working under a set of paradigms that no longer apply and letting the power of inertia carry them along.” And if they don’t realize they’re facing a crisis, they won’t know that they need to undertake a turn-around, either…!!
He’s also heard the regrets !! sometimes managers underestimated how critical their situation was—or they were looking at the wrong data. Others took advantage of easy access to cheap capital to stay the course in spite of poor performance, believing they could push through it. Still others got so caught up in the pressure for short-term returns that they neglected to ensure their company’s long-term health—or even willfully sacrificed it.
Rare among them is the executive who stepped back to review his or her own plans objectively, asking “Is this what I thought would happen when I first started going down this road?” That’s a problem, because acknowledging that your plan isn’t working is a necessary first step.
1. Throw away your “Perceptions” of a Company in Distress :
It’s next to impossible to come up with one working definition of a company in distress—and dangerous to think that you have one for your own company. Depending on the situation, there are probably 25 different signs of potential distress (exhibit). The problem is seldom made up of just One OR Two of these things, however. Rather, it is the result of a greater number of them interacting together and with other external factors.
2. Force yourself to “criticize your own plan” :
The biggest thing you can do to avoid distress is periodically review your business plans. When you’re creating them, whether at the beginning of the year or the start of a three-year cycle, build in some trigger points. A simple explicit reminder can be enough: “If we don’t have this type of performance by this date or we haven’t gotten the following 12 things done by this date, we’ll step back and decide if we’re going down the right path, given what’s happened since our last review.”
Such trigger points should be oriented both to operational and market performance as well as to basic financial metrics and cash flow…Look at where you are as a company using basic financial and cash milestones, and then look at where you are with respect to your industry and competitors. If you’re not moving with the rest of the industry (or not outpacing it, if the industry is struggling), then your plan may be obsolete. And don’t forget to look back at your performance over past cycles to identify any trends. If you keep missing performance targets, ask why.
3. “Expect more” from your Board :
The beauty of a board is that it has enough distance from the company to see the forest for the trees. Managers often treat their board as a necessary evil to placate so they can get on with their business, but that undermines the board’s role as an early-warning system when a company is heading for distress.
It’s also the board’s responsibility to look the CEO, the CFO, and the chief operating officer (COO) in the eye and say, “OK, we like your plan. Now let’s talk about what it would take to cut costs not just by 3 percent but by 20. Let’s talk about all the things that can go wrong—the risks to the business.” Sometimes significant events happen that no one could have foreseen, of course. But in a typical distress situation, a company has usually just had 18 to 24 months of poor performance, and the board hasn’t been aware or hasn’t asked the right questions. Independent board members—truly independent ones—can have a big impact here.
4. Focus on “Cash” :
A successful turn-around really comes down to one thing, which is a focus on cash and cash returns…That means bringing a business back to its basic element of success. Is it generating cash or burning it? And, even more specifically, which investments in the business are Generating or Burning Cash ??
I like to think about this in the same way one would if running a local hardware store. By that, I mean asking fundamental questions, such as whether there is enough cash in the register to pay the utility bill, for example, or to pay for the pallet of house paint that will arrive next week, or how much more cash I can make by investing in a new delivery truck. When you bring a business back to those basic elements, the actions you need to take to get back on track become pretty clear. In many of the cases I have seen, the management team and board are focused on complex metrics related to earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) and return on investment that exclude major uses of cash. For example, variations on EBIT commonly exclude depreciation and amortization but also exclude things like rents or fuel. These are all fine metrics, but nasty surprises await when no one is focused on cash.
Keeping track of cash isn’t just about watching your bank balance. To avoid surprises, companies also need a good forecast that keeps a midterm and longer view. For example, failing to pay attention to the cash component of capital investments routinely gets companies in trouble. Project net present values can look the same whether the return begins gradually at year two or jumps up dramatically at year five. But if you’re not focusing on the cash that goes out the door while you’re waiting for that year-five infusion, you can suddenly find yourself with very little cash left to run the business, sending you into a spiral you may not recover from.
5. Create a “great Change-Story” :
Companies in distress “don’t” focus enough on creating a change-story that everyone understands—and that creates some sense of urgency…Here’s an example: I recently did a turnaround as chief restructuring officer of a mining company. It was profitable, returned a decent margin, and was cash positive. But the commodity price was dropping, and the board was worried about generating enough free cash flow to drive the capital needs of the business. The change story we created said, “Yes, we are profitable. But the whole point of profitability is to generate enough cash to expand, grow, and maintain operations. If we can’t do that, then we’re headed for a long, slow decline where equipment breaks down and lower production becomes the new reality.”
If you can tell that story in a paragraph or less, in a way that means something to the average guy on the front line, then people will get on board. In this case, employees wanted to have their children and their grandchildren work for this company in the same remote mining location, and the change story spurred them to action. The key was a simple message, NOT fancy metrics.
6. Treat every turnaround like a crisis :
Without a crisis mind-set, you get a stable company’s response to change: risk is to be avoided, and incrementalism takes over. Your workers are asked to do a little more (or the same) with less. More aggressive ideas will be analyzed ad nauseam, and the implementation will be slow and methodical.
In contrast, a crisis demands significant action, now, which is what a distressed company needs. Managers need to use words like crisis and urgency from the first moment they recognize the need for a turnaround. A company that’s in true crisis will be willing to try some things that it normally wouldn’t consider, and it’s those bold actions that change the trajectory of the company. Crisis drives people to action and opens managers up to consider a full range of options.
7. Build traction for “change with quick wins” :
The tendency of most managers is to put all of their focus and resources into Three OR Four big bets to turn a company around. That can be a high-risk approach.. Even if big bets are sometimes necessary, they take a lot of time and effort—and they don’t always pay off. For example, say you decide to change suppliers of raw materials so you can source from a low-cost country, expecting 30 percent lower direct costs. If you realize six months later that the material specifications don’t meet your needs, you’ll have spent time you don’t have, perhaps interrupted your whole production schedule, and probably burned a bunch of cash on something that didn’t pay off.
In addition to going after big bets, managers should focus on getting a series of quick wins to gain traction within the organization. Such quick wins can be cost focused, cutting off demand for some external service they don’t need. Or it could be policy focused, such as introducing a more stringent policy on travel expense.
Not only do “such moves improve the Bottom-Line”, they also “generate support among employees”..In any given company, you’re likely to find that a fifth of employees across the organization are almost always supportive. They work hard. And they will change what they’re doing if you just ask them. These are the people you’ll want to spend most of your time with, and they’re the ones you’ll promote—but you’ll probably spend too much time with the bottom fifth of employees. These are the underachieving ones who actively resist change, look for ways to avoid it, or are simply high maintenance.
What often gets ignored is the remaining 60 percent of the organization. These are the fence-sitters, and they are tuned into action, not just talk. They see the changes going on, and if you proactively work with them, then 80 percent of the organization will be behind you. But if you don’t give them a reason to stand up and be positive about the company, they’ll go negative. That’s the importance of quick wins. When you quickly take real action, and when those actions affect the management team as well, you send a powerful message.
8. “Throw out” your “old incentive plans” :
Management incentives are often the most overlooked tool in a turn-around… In stable companies, short-term incentive plans can be a complex assortment of goals related to safety, financial and operational performance, and personal development. Many are so complex that when you ask managers what they need to do to earn their bonus, many just shrug their shoulders and say, “Someone will tell me at the end of the year.”
In a turn-around, take a lesson from the private-equity industry and throw out your old plans. Instead, offer managers incentives tied specifically to what you want them to do…Do you need $10 million of improvement from pricing ? Then make it a big part of your sales staff’s incentive plan. Need $150 million from procurement? Give your chief purchasing officer a meet-or-beat target. Be willing to forgo bonus payments for those that don’t achieve 100 percent of their target—and to pay out handsomely for those whose results are beyond expectations.
9. “Replace” a Top-team member OR two :
Experience tells me that most successful turnarounds involve changing out one or two top-team members. This isn’t about “bad” managers. In my 20 years of doing this, I’ve only seen a small handful of managers I thought were truly incompetent. But it’s a practical reality that there are managers who must own the decline. And more often than not, they are incapable of the shift in mind-set needed to make fundamental changes to the operating philosophy they’ve believed in for years…Whether they realize it or not, they block that change because they’re bent on defending what they believe to be true. Although it’s difficult, removing those people sends another signal to your stakeholders that there will be changes and you’re not afraid to make tough moves.
10. “Find & Retain” talented-people :
Beyond the leadership team, there are TWO types of people I look for immediately. First are those that have the institutional knowledge. They may not be your top performers, but they know all the ins and outs of the company—and are vital to understanding the impact of potential changes on the business… Many times they are the disgruntled ones, unhappy with the company’s performance. But you need people who are willing to point out the uncomfortable truths.
A turn-around is also a real opportunity to find the next level of talent in an organization…I’ve been through multiple crises where the people who added the most value and impact weren’t the ones sitting around the table at the beginning. I have often found great leaders two and three levels down who are just waiting for an opportunity—and the fact that they can be part of something bigger than themselves, saving a company, is often enough to attract and retain them.
For both groups, it’s important to realize that retention isn’t always about money and bonuses. It’s also about figuring out the individual’s needs.
Good Turn-around managers actively look for those people and find a way to get them involved..!!