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What’s Up with My Employees?? Part 2

Read Part 1 of this client short story.

When we left off with Sarah, she was going to do some research to understand what was going on. In this posting, we’ll share Sarah’s findings and next steps outlined with the organization.

Sarah’s Findings

Sarah met with a number of employees from throughout the organization, at all levels, to understand more about what was happening. The employees she met with were more influential among their peers and therefore were likely to have had conversations with their peers about perceptions of the organization. She also met with the COO. Below are the findings from her meetings/research, presented at a high level.

Conversations with the COO (Tim)

  • The new COO did not see the value of socializing throughout the organization, he perceived that socializing simply meant employees were goofing off.
  • He was having difficulty adapting to a more relaxed organizational structure; which he thought would be easier for him.
  • Because he was brought on board to bring on change and move the organization forward, through process improvements/operational improvements, he felt that he needed to work rapidly to reach those goals.

Conversations with employees

  • The new COO’s direct reports were finding it difficult to work with their leader. One individual told you that on the COO’s first day, in a meeting with his senior leaders, he made the following statement, “I was brought on board to make significant changes in how work is done to ensure that the organization’s goals are achieved. I expect everyone to support me in this effort.” The perception of this statement was that the COO was not going to bother learning more about the group and the work they do and how that work gets accomplished.
  • Those direct reports had conversations with their employees about their perceptions of the COO and the future of the group. That caused a trickle effect – those employees then shared information and concerns with peers throughout the organization.
  • Employees overall felt that if senior leadership was OK with the COO, that they were likely trying to change the culture of the organization to more hierarchical, top down control. This was the perception of employees and it was concerning to them. Without any other information, this was their reality.

Conversations with senior leaders

  • Senior leaders overall thought that the new COO could add much value to the organization, but acknowledged that he was not a great cultural fit.
  • The CEO perceived that he likely did not position his expectations of the COO, especially as it relates to engaging employees and others in the organization in any change.

Next Steps

A conversation between Sarah, the CEO and the COO led to the following high level next steps:

  • Abudi Consulting would coach the COO in adapting to the organization its culture and collaborate with him to plan out how to achieve the changes desired with a focus on engaging employees in those changes.
  • The CEO would work directly with entire executive team to ensure a better plan around making changes within the organization to meet their strategic goals, all with a focus on maintaining the current culture.
  • Sarah and the CEO would reach out to the organization as a whole to do a better job of sharing future goals and to engage employees in achieving those goals all while maintaining a focus on building upon the current culture.

These steps would enable the organization to re-engage employees and re-focus on the culture that had been so successful since the organization’s inception.

In summary…

When bringing on new leaders – at all level – it is important to understand how they fit into the current culture of the organization. Even when changes are desired to move an organization forward, it is essential to align those changes with the current culture – especially if there is a desire to retain that culture. In doing so, changes are more likely to succeed within the organization.

New leaders often come in with grand plans and a desire to make an impact immediately. Failing to understand the workings of the organization only sets the new leader up for failure and the likelihood that their plans will not come to fruition.

One way that executives and HR can help is to ensure that they set expectations with new leaders to learn about the organization’s culture, learn more about their area of responsibility and engage their employees in conversations around what is going well and where is the potential for improvements to better accomplish work.

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