Authoritarian or Collaborative?


So we have a Restructure how do we make it work?

Its 2009 and most major organisations in the Asia Pacific region are currently going through some form of restructure. So what’s best who should we listen to, why and when? Some organisations get it right, that is the performance of their teams usually reduced in size increases significantly. Organisational change, performance interventions and restructures need to be done well so you keep your best and let go of those who want to be elsewhere.

Others get it wrong, often those who think they know what’s needed either intuitively or after what they consider to be significant research, but who ignore the troops and what’s working best inside, often they go with the “latest and greatest” fad or style for the time.

Why does it really matter? Well this entry will argue that you better get it right if you’re to be remembered by your people and your board if you are the one making the decisions. So what different ways of doing things are there and how do you decide so that your “Troops” head in the same direction you intended and performance leaps by 25-40% not 5-10%!

1) School Room Style – We Make the Decisions – You Do What You’re Told – Authoritarian Approach

Use a style that’s become popular in some organisations of late, you decide on what’s best behind closed doors what will in your personal opinion and that of those around you work, so long as the teams get into gear and pull their “fingers” out.

Like when we were at school and were told look you are welcome to do it how you like, so long as you follow these guidelines. But the guidelines were pretty stringent, ironically killing much of the innovation and often the people who may have been genius’s complete their work then don’t offer to help anyone else because they may be worried if they do they may get it wrong when teaching then be in trouble themselves.

So what can happen is little or no change. People end up in an environment of fear uncertainty and protecting their own turfs. Results well you don’t have to be Einstein to understand that when people are scared they are not operating at their best. In fact results drop off and senior leaders use any excuse they can think of, to justify the lack of results.

2) The Collaborative Approach – Old Style Consult the Masses – Trust the People

Another approach taken is the trust the masses approach, where you run a little blind. You know that change is needed but are not 100% sure of the solution. You decide to listen to what your people tell you they think they need. Great in theory but often the blind spots in the team may stay blind. For example if some of your people are scared of approaching major new clients and starting new deals from scratch, they may be unlikely to promote this as the next big area of focus.

Major benefits though come from understanding where your teams feel like they are excelling and where they feel they are falling down. If you have a great relationship with your team and know all the numbers coming out of the system around productivity and or sales dollars, then you can link these across to key behaviours that become of great value to significant and fast business changes.

3) A Combination Process – Knowing Some of the Answers – Consulting on Others

This approach is one that is seldom well used and when it is often swings to far toward 1 or 2 above. Imagine as a leader actually pulling your head in for one minute and acknowledging you don’t have “All the answers” and understanding that your job is actually to find them out.

By mapping what you consider might work, then consulting the masses you can actually create an environment where people really buy into the process. The problem often is we have the answers first then rush in and implement before we have really consulted. Or we tell the people we have taken on their feedback, when we have not, or have listened to 10% of the feedback from the people but implemented only 5%.

The we change the business structure and 12 weeks later it’s a mess, the people are unhappy and no one is any better off. Everyone starts to blame each other and the only way to fix it is for those that made the decisions to get out there and put a rocket up the regional managers …

Ironically this fixes nothing, people end up leaving due to underperformance all caused by a lack of true consultation. So if you’re down that path or can feel yourself heading in that direction what can you do? Call in a major consulting firm like McKinsey, Bain and Co. or Accenture etc, well its one solution, and have them build a roadmap out of where you now find yourself. Guaranteeing you’ll have access to some global smarts in the process is a great way to rest easy until they’ve gone, but then its back to you.

Conclusion

How about thinking first, mapping a solution based on your best internal people, (do you have a talent identification & management process?) reading and speaking with other external people who are cutting edge in your industry. Contacting heads of similar businesses in different countries to build relationships with people who don’t compete in your market where you can share different ideas and research. Build these into your solution, get rid of senior team members who don’t consult or who are not good at building internal relationships with the people at lower levels who actually do the work.

Change your team so that you respect your people from the bottom up not just the top down, start getting granular, don’t accept excuses from senior team members like oh its not my job to know that process, it is there job to get results. Benchmark everything you do so any significant decisions results are plain and simple to understand. If someone rolled out a new process, performance program or new system that did not work what were the real costs and why, what can we learn from those? How many people have we lost due to poor leadership and why were those the leaders we choose in the first place? Then involve your best people in everything you do, ensure their input becomes “How do you run your business”. Stop trying to pretend you “Know all the answers” you don’t. Only through true consultation and understanding of everything your people are selling, processing and facing daily then leveraging this are you going to get that answers that will give you real results.

Good Luck – You Can Do This!

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