Case: Leading through difficult times
Leading through tough times with less controlling
We have all been there and will for sure be there again. When the company are facing difficulties, actions need to be taken. A new direction need to be set. The organization need to be aligned and in some cases down sized. It is not that there is missing literature on the topic, on the contrary. There is also plenty of advisers that can help you get the company back on track. This short paper will try to simplify the problem and encourage leaders to be brave, to fight the behavior of controlling. Micromanage through the change is tempting, but nevertheless counterproductive.
Brave leaders show leadership when it is mostly needed. Leadership is NOT equal to controlling, it is making the organization accountable. It is simplifying the follow up systems. Obvious statements, but so difficult to do in practice.
Let’s start with the performance indicators. Every initiative the company takes in establishing a new cross functional organization will automatically lead to new performance indicators. Very seldom these replace old once, but rather are additions to what you already have. To make sure the follow up reporting is given the right attention the parameters are named Key Performance Indictors(KPI). If you do the exercise and count how many KPI´s you have in a special department you will be surprised. I have seen teams that on a quarterly base must report more than 50 KPIs.
Support functions like HR, IT, Internal Audits, Supply and so on all start to request KPI´s from the organization. Each individual target and reported follow up data have it´s on logic and very good reason to be implemented. The problem comes when you aggregate the requests. Not only does this generate allot of waste time in the support functions, it also takes focus away from the line managers on what is really critical during a turnaround situation.
Can we manage the organization without follow up? Of course not, but the performance indicators most be scrutinized and not allowed to be too many. The word Key Performance Indictors should be used very carefully and kept for the vital few.
Another buzz word that is used frequently in power points, but more rarely in really life is Accountability. Like everything else it is easy to give freedom and space to maneuver to the organization when sales and result are going in the right way. Leaders that are brave and truly believe in their teams also give accountability during difficult times and it is now when it is really needed. This is when you fully get your people engaged and committed to the cause. If this is one of your company values, it is now you start living it.
Brave leaders believe in people rather than processes. True accountability give better result than controlling and empowers the organization to go that extra mile. You will focus on the right areas for improvement. Pick your vital few and stick to them.