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Case Study Five

"I'm taking over an organization that has been in the public eye due to questionable practices by the previous management team, and we're still dealing with the fallout. I'm not sure of the best way to proceed."

Issue: Controversial company decisions had put a medium-sized firm in jeopardy of losing its positive name recognition and customer base in their regional market. Although legal action had not, as yet, resulted in negative legal outcomes, it was always a possibility. The CEO understood that his role was to continue pressing forward even in the face of legal repercussions from earlier management decisions. The hard question was how.

Challenge: The most important thing was to maintain the quality and integrity of their products; retain their good people; and reassure their customer base of the soundness of the company and its mission.

Solution: We worked with the management team, driving home the concept that in the middle of a fire, you always adhere to the drill. In other words, narrow and simplify your goals: do what you know; do what you do best. This meant focusing on their key products and services with a constant eye toward improvement.

Second, we stressed the importance of communication. If you're going to retain valuable employees and a solid customer base, they must be kept informed. We stressed focus group meetings with mid-level management to assure them that the company was committed to their well-being. Communication needs to be two-way. Managers were encouraged to keep all employees informed and to respond honestly to their concerns.

This was not a time to hide. We encouraged sales staff and customer service personnel to let customers know that they still had an incredible product, an extraordinary service delivery system, and the same high-energy commitment to their total satisfaction.

Lastly, management was encouraged to talk about the principles and values on which the company was founded, that still served to guide them today. Values, customer focus, integrity, and innovation…these remain as beacons in good times and bad.


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