With decades of experience conducting multi-million pound turnarounds for global financial organisations, Peter Charambalous has the inside track to turnaround success. Here are nine of his key points to consider before embarking on a turnaround.
Clear, honest and unambiguous communication is valued. At times, it makes uncomfortable listening but it lessens the discomfort and fear that change brings. People will become engaged and want to contribute and be part of the solution.
You need a very thick skin to reduce costs as rarely does it mean that people won’t lose their jobs. If a role, product or service doesn’t add value then exit it. You do your best to reassign impacted employees, but sometimes you can’t and there is a human cost.
Staying in control is key, it can be a long process and you need to see the changes through. A business wouldn’t be in trouble if the management team brought their A-game every day and understood their financials as well as the non-financial issues.
With any business, stick to what you know. Of course, you can expand, diversify and grow but do it properly. Make the product or service core, have a plan and invest in good people and systems. Acquiring activity via osmosis as you go along will bite you. If it doesn’t improve the bottom line and add value then you don’t need it.
Getting employees to buy into company culture and strategy is key. Richard Branson says if you look after your employees then they will look after your customers. Both clients and employees alike need to buy-in to the changes that you are making and believe that it is for the better. Both need to buy-in to your brand.
When things go well and improve or a tough problem is resolved then congratulate everyone involved and celebrate the success with the wider team. It shows everyone they are valued and the hard graft and pain is worth it. Sometimes a ‘thank you’ and a ‘well done’ goes a long way and it will both motivate and improve productivity.
If you mirror King Canute, vainly holding back the tide, you will fail. Change will happen with or without you. Be a strong leader, accept change, be ready! People fear problems, fear asking for help and fear change. A problem won’t go away or fix itself if it is ignored. It will compound and get bigger, hurting even more when crystallised.
Good leaders want their employees to speak up and escalate when something goes wrong, bad ones immediately give them a blindfold and cigarette thus creating an environment where issues are buried rather than employees feeling empowered to speak up without fear.
By taking responsibility, starring down fear, embracing change, having the courage to make tough decisions and just a little bit of luck, you can turn around a business. If the local management team has worked alongside you to do so and you can hand it back to them and they continue to make it a success long after you are gone, that’s the best feeling.