A brief case: How do I make a change within an underperforming area of my company?

Ted Balistreri
Ted Balistreri

Ted Balistreri
Co-owner
Sendik’s Food Markets

“Business organizations are a collection of people who come together to accomplish something that an individual could not accomplish on their own. Therefore, when we identify an issue in our organization that needs change, our first source of information is our people. This usually means our team members who are on the front lines, customer-facing and with a great deal at stake.

“First, we assess whether we have the right people with the right capabilities necessary to lead change. Second, we determine if the team has the right tools in place to complete the task at hand. Assuming the right people are in place and have the tools necessary to complete the job, we solicit input from them to clearly identify the factors leading to non-performance. Once identified, we solicit information from them as to what actions can be taken to overcome the obstacles at hand.

“By identifying the issues and asking for their input, our team members become an integral part of planning and executing changes that are needed to address opportunities we may have. This engagement leads to higher levels of enthusiasm and job satisfaction as the changes necessary for course correction are enacted. Plus, it’s a lot more fun for everyone involved as they see the progress they are making. In this regard, excellent communication with all those involved in the process is a key ingredient to success.”

Nate Manning
Nate Manning

Nate Manning
Vice president and general manager, HVAC & controls-North America
Johnson Controls

“The first step: determine if this area of the company is strategically important. Think of it as a stock— buy, sell or hold. Assuming buy or hold, the next step is to define the problem and what future success looks like. These statements are the rallying cry for your organization, and for creating alignment among leaders in your business.

“Now it’s time to go to work. Handpick a team with diverse backgrounds and approaches, and create bandwidth – if they do this part-time it is likely to fail. Use this as an opportunity to give high potential talent a growth opportunity with exposure to leadership. Gather the team, outline the problem and get everyone aligned around the definition of success. Help them create a ‘war room’ and allow them to define metrics and milestones to drive transparency of progress on an operating cadence that will meet your deadline.

“It’s important to communicate to your entire organization what is happening and provide regular updates. Why? Because the fix will need to be sustainable and this means employees will need to buy in along the journey.

“Positive reinforcement is a force multiplier for productivity and continuous improvement, so put as much thought into this as you did trying to solve the issue.

“Done consistently, this process becomes organic and keeps your business on the right path.”

Lindsay Ruch
Lindsay Ruch

Lindsay Ruch
Vice president
Versant

“Like most independent businesses, Versant strives to provide an outstanding level of service to our clients and partners. In order to effectively turn ‘what if’ into ‘wow’ and remain competitive in our pricing, we continually monitor our project efficiency and make work process adjustments where necessary.

“At Versant, we document our workflow processes for each project. After a project is complete, we analyze performance, looking specifically for areas that take a disproportionate amount of time. We take into consideration the assignment or task at hand and the predetermined budget laid out in the statement of work.

“Communication among team members is one important area we’ve implemented change in, by putting more emphasis on in-person communication than on email or text. This is hard to do in today’s age of constant digitized communication. However, we found in-person meetings allowed us to better flesh out our creative goals and objectives and, in turn, create more effective in-depth strategies that deliver the best results for our clients and partners.”

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