This company was expanding quickly through organic growth and acquisition. The Chairman was unhappy that department heads and employees did not appear to be working toward his vision for the company. Unless everyone was pulling in the same direction and at the same pace, the company would stumble and lose market share.
When the company was smaller, the Chairman could confer with department heads and staff regularly and see that they were focused and energized. As with every company, growth brings the challenge of keeping everyone on the same page and pulling together, without direct hands-on interaction with the person at the top.
I listened to the Chairman’s concerns. I also spoke with department heads to understand their issues and needs. It became clear that the vision was becoming fuzzier the further you went down the organization, and there was considerably less access to the Chairman for clarification.
I created and facilitated a safe and candid forum for the Chairman and department heads to talk. They heard the Chairman’s vision directly, challenged some of the assumptions, and then clarified their roles in achieving it. The Chairman also learned of competitive and internal hurdles that made life difficult for his department heads. High-level solutions were explored and agreed upon, with action plans to track progress.
The shared understanding of the Chairman’s vision resulted in achievement of my client’s near-term goals. It also established a precedent for periodic discussion between all key members of the leadership team to sustain the company’s growth.
The Chairman said: “It felt good to see the company moving in the direction I wanted again.” And a department head said: “It was great to be able to ask questions – and even challenge the Chairman’s thinking a little – without worrying that I’d lose my job.”