Pipes & Pumps (fictitious name) had tried 3 times to turnaround a non-profitable division.

The message here is that a pure numbers driven approach to turning around a business, will not work. What is required in addition to the numbers, is a people-centred approach.

I have found over many turnaround projects that it is the soft stuff that is the hard stuff. For instance if there are redundancies, then people will go through a grieving process like any other personal loss.

Here is a summary of why I believe I succeeded, where others had failed:

  • I bought all the key players along for the journey. Workshops numbered 50-60 people – senior leadership, through to the guys in the workshop. Everyone had a voice.
  • I chose my words carefully and was honest, especially with the bad news. For instance there were redundancies involved but I never shrank from fronting everyone as soon as I knew who had to go.
  • I understand that people go through a process of loss and grief when embarking on a significant change like a turnaround. This always helps reduce friction.
  • I ensured leadership was accessible. Their active role was seen by everyone else as a signal to get on board.
  • I ensured that the General Manager was the hero of the turnaround, not me.

There is always blood, sweat and tears in a turnaround. They are never easy. However, if you adopt these basic ideas you stand a better chance of coming out the other side.