Why Management Wants the Turnaround Person Gone as Quickly as Possible
In the course of my career I have done more turnarounds than I want to remember. Over the years, I have learned that most turnarounds follow a similar pattern.
First – Business management or owner(s) are questioning why the turnaround person is even needed to begin with. It appears that no one thinks there is anything wrong with the business, even though a third party (usually a financial institution) has required that a turnaround person come into the business before the business goes bankrupt or is completely out of business.
Second – The business management or owner(s) have made no attempt to fix the problems that require the business to have a turnaround person. The problems can be operational, financial or managerial. Often during the initial interview, management will attempt to articulate what the problems are with the business, but glaze over the fact that there is no plan of action being implemented to correct the problems. In many cases management is in complete denial that there are even problems with the business, so no thought and effort has been given to the business’s systemic problems, other than what issue(s) do I need to deal with today.
Third – After the assessment of the problems, an action plan needs to be implemented, which means the turnaround person needs to help develop a communication plan for the line managers and employees about what is about to happen and why various business actions need to be taken. This is often the hardest point for the business’s management or owner(s) to handle; the turnaround person is about to expose the leadership for their lack of leadership. I have had many a discussion with business management and owner(s) on communicating the corrective action plan to employees, which the business’s management seemingly always thinks is a bad idea. Here is where business management does everything to try to avoid professional embarrassment for their lack of leadership and are only thinking about how to cover up their mess. At this point, I have to convince the business’s management or owner(s) that the employees will be glad to see that something is actually going to be done to get the business back on stable footing and that someone is trying to help save the business and their jobs. Even more shocking to the business’s management is that the employees want to help save the business, even though their work environment is about to change.
Fourth – As the turnaround starts to show positive results, management or owner(s) want to take the credit for the turnaround and get the turnaround person out of the business as quickly as possible. This can be a red flag that the success of the turnaround and that the positive changes being implemented in the business will have a short duration.
Finally – It is hard to believable how many times I have had to go back to the same business and either complete the initial turnaround or do a second turnaround, as the business management or owner(s) have reverted back to their bad habits and the business is failing again.
It is surprising how many businesses are in a chronic state of needing to be turned around, because the business’s management or owner(s) are chasing rainbows versus running the business and addressing problems in a timely manner with long term solutions. Business managers or owner(s) never welcome a turnaround person even though the business needs them, but the business managers or owner(s) that do welcome in the turnaround person, generally, only need to be turned around once.