Situation: The CEO of a small company finds that whether he gives broad direction to employees or very specific instruction he gets the same result: they don’t seem to understand what he wants. He feels that they don’t have a sense of buy-in or urgency. What are best practices for effective delegation to improve results?
Advice from the CEOs:
You recently fired an employee for inconsistent performance but didn’t tell your staff. When you return to the office this afternoon, get the employees together and tell why the individual was fired. Let them know that this is part of a broader pattern that you see within the company and that if you see other cases of individuals not following through on their assigned responsibilities you will have to take additional action. Unless your employees understand that nonperformance has consequences, there will be no change.
In your operations, set subassembly goals and intermediate milestones coupled. Create and post a set of charts in the operations room so that employees have a regular visual reminder of how they are doing. Bring these charts to employee meetings and discuss how the company is doing. If deadlines aren’t being met, ask for input on how to improve performance. Celebrate successes with recognition for individuals or groups who demonstrate the ability to meet objectives.
Hire an operations manager with experience working with teams the size of yours. You want an individual who excels at motivating and getting results from people, and who has supervisory versus managerial experience. Think platoon leader – a person who excels at effectively running small teams.
Situation: A company was recently acquired. The acquirer wants to merge benefit structures between the two entities. While company contributions are similar, distribution of benefits between retirement plans, health plans, and other benefits between the entities varies considerably. How do you approach the staff about the changes in a positive manner?
Advice from the CEOs:
Ideally, you want to survey employees on what is and is not important to them about their benefits before the package is finalized. This will help you negotiate on your employees’ behalf.
Ask the acquirer whether a “cafeteria” benefit program is feasible. This would allow your employees to make choices among benefit options, and to fund these choices either at a company-paid base level or to supplement their choices through payroll deductions.
Inform the acquiring company of your state’s regulatory policies on state-specific benefits.
Once the new benefit package is finalized, ask for assistance communicating the new package to your staff. Create a simple and concise grid for the program:
Amount of company contribution,
Old program and benefits,
New program and benefits,
Use the grid to demonstrate that while the allocation may be different, the company contribution remains the same and the total value of benefits offered is unchanged.
If you know that a highly valued benefit is being reduced, consider a short-term subsidy to ease the shift.
Be clear about decisions that your employees must make in the new program.
If you have access to industry or regional comparisons for like-sized companies, you may wish to share these.
Situation: The industry is changing and the Company must adapt both structure and focus. This may require a layoff of staff not aligned with the new focus. How do you maintain morale in the face of uncertainty and possible layoffs?
Advice from the CEOs:
Ask for employee input as to industry trends and what possible directions for the company.
Employees are closer to the customer than the CEO and have valuable insights.
Gather input in small group meetings to prompt discussion and ideas.
Make this a research talk. Leverage the “wisdom of the crowd.”
Research other industries that have undergone similar changes.
What strategies did the most successful companies pursue? Could these work for you?
If faced with protracted uncertainty, what did they do while waiting for market clarity?
If a layoff is necessary, conduct it in one day:
Monday is better than Friday.
Do it early in the day. Give final checks the day of the layoff.
Provide instructions for filing for unemployment assistance via the Internet.
Hold a company meeting for remaining staff immediately after the layoffs. Focus your message on the future and positioning the company for the future.
Prepare a brief summary of your message, to distribute as a take-away.
Be prepared for a grieving process following the layoff. Consider outside assistance on grieving to overview the process.
Following the company meeting, have key employees conduct smaller group meetings to lead discussions and allay fears about the layoff. Fully prep these individuals about the situation with written responses to likely questions.
The benefit of a Monday layoff is that you will see everyone on Tuesday, and the team can continue to address their concerns.