Let’s imagine for a minute: You’re the new CEO of an established company. Its performance has been average, customer loyalty is falling and your best employees are leaving every week. The previous CEO subscribed to a command and control management style allowing for little flexibility and no room for mistakes. The employees lived under an ever-present fear of doing something wrong.
As the new CEO, how do you transform the culture of this organization? How do you turn a fearful environment into a company considered a great place to work? Here’s six steps that will prove imperative in turning the company around and creating a great place where employees want to work and customers keep coming back.
- Talk with Leaders: Communicate your vision for the future and the new workplace you intend to create for employees in the coming months and years. Do your best to obtain leadership buy-in.
- Leadership Roll Call: If your leaders are not on board with your vision of creating a great workplace built on trust and respect, it is time to clean house. The qualities of trust and respect are foundational elements of a great workplace, and your leaders must also possess these qualities.
- Technical vs. People Skills: The initial reaction for many CEOs will be to retain leaders with excellent technical skills but poor people skills. This is a bad idea for positive culture transformation. Always keep apprised of how supervisors are doing in this area. Give supervisors a chance to change and buy in to your leadership model. However, company assistance and a timeline should be attached to your people skills expectations.
- A Messy Process: Creating a great workplace is a messy process. The organization has likely accumulated many bad people practice habits and not everyone is going to be happy with the changes. Although you are trying to transform the company into a great workplace, the metamorphosis from toxic to great can rattle a few nerves. Give your HR team permission and authority to fix poor people practices immediately.
- Spend Time with Employees. Jump down from that executive suite and spend time with the people who interact with your customers. Ask them how things are going. Serve them lunch and sit down and eat with them. Have a Q&A session afterwards – and allow any questions to be asked and answer them honestly. Follow-up with the group for any questions with which you don’t have immediate answers. The bigger your organization, the longer this will take. Fortunately, technology is making the process of being more than one place at a time easier.
- Openly communicate what is happening in the organization. Legal, operations, marketing, and even public relations may try to convince you that you cannot openly communicate important information to employees. Building trust with employees, the number one ingredient of a great workplace, is created with continual, open communication. Don’t restrict this important leadership responsibility.