An Organizational Turnaround
Shortly after finishing my MBA, I faced the biggest challenge of my professional career.
With the worst product quality and client delivery in the industry, the company I’d joined was ranked in the bottom 5% globally of over 500 suppliers due to a lack of infrastructure and scalable processes. As a result, ten of our top twelve clients were threatening to leave. Employee morale had hit rock-bottom. The company was losing money.
We needed to make changes. Fast! My instincts kicked in as quickly as my precious and pretty MBA models were tossed aside.
In order to get the company back on track, I knew we’d need to start with an honest approach. Through an act of self-awareness, we acknowledged to our clients what we’d already admitted to ourselves: we were not performing at an acceptable or sustainable level. Then, we asked for support and guidance. What were their best suppliers doing that we weren’t?
Each client provided a list of standards our company was failing to meet. These multiple sources of feedback helped us to determine best practices within our industry and define our next steps.
“Give us ninety days to implement the first three steps,” we asked. “Then audit us again.”
“Good luck,” our clients scoffed. “You’ll need it.”
After three months of laser-like focus on our company’s internal business processes, the audits went better than anyone expected, establishing a foundation for our turnaround, ninety days at a time. Through detailed self-management, the more we focused on our failings, the more we progressed. Client feedback, in the form of on-time delivery and quality, became our organizational mantra.
Fast forward a year.
Not only had the company’s processes and systems improved so dramatically that we ranked within the top 5% globally of over 500 industry suppliers, but we’d also won several best-performance awards. Clients couldn’t believe our transformation from worst-in-class to best-in-class. “We’ve never seen anything like this!” they said.
As a result of our focus and drive for results, throughout the next decade the company maintained a leading, award-winning supplier position and quality ratings of less than fifty parts-per-million defects across our entire customer base. Profitability, rankings and employee engagement completely transformed. Simple habits, repeated over time with discipline and focus, became true self-mastery.
Soon after I launched Adastra, my executive coaching business, I realized that the same three stages my former company went through translated to an individual’s pathway to success.
Like the first step we took to get my former company out of a mess, the coaching work I do starts with honesty. Talking through a client’s psychometric and 360 feedback results can be a tough conversation. The data presents truths and highlights weaknesses. Facts reveal blind spots.
Having self-awareness around a particular behavior/trait isn’t simply acknowledging its existence. I help clients understand how that behavior/trait negatively impacts them on a personal and professional level, even if it may have driven past success.
Questions I ask:
– What are your own blind spots?
– What is the cost of you behaving like this?
– What are the limitations of your current approach?
After identifying primary areas of focus, I then help my clients build systems and processes to better support their self-management. This is the most difficult part of the developmental journey but also the one that yields the best rewards.
By changing their approach to familiar challenges, clients increase their capabilities and improve their confidence. They deliver more powerful, sustainable results. And when old instincts kick in, they are able to check themselves… before they wreck themselves!
Questions I ask:
– What would it look like if you took another approach?
– How can you build alignment and create accountability?
– How will you remind yourself of the commitment you have made to yourself and the people around you?
Over time, as different approaches become habits, my clients increase their capacity and capability to deal with common situations as they move toward self-mastery within a specific area. Essentially, they now have a larger skill set from which to make choices and exercise judgement on the best pathways forward.
Questions I ask:
– How will you measure the impact of your change?
– Is the change clear, visible and undeniable to the people around you?
– What systems, structures and processes will help you maintain and sustain your developmental growth?
The practice of increasing self-awareness and focusing on self-management in order to develop self-mastery is a simple and effective model for human growth, as well as organizational success; one that can lead to lasting, powerful and life-changing results.
It’s time to start the journey.
Jamie Ramsden is a certified executive leadership coach and founder of Adastra Consulting (www.adastraleadership.com). A former Chief Executive, Jamie has been coaching C-Suite and Senior executives around the world for over fifteen years.