Previous articles have discussed the importance of having the right people who are doing the right things and being accountable for achieving specific results in your organization. To achieve the maximum return on investment in your people, the organization’s structure, culture, and management styles always play a critical role.


Many organizations recruit spectacularly successful area experts, managers, and executives into the organization only to receive less than stellar results. Sometimes it may truly be that these people aren’t all they were represented to be. Many times, however, the organization has hired exactly the person they thought they were getting – the skills, abilities, connections, experience, etc.   They just didn’t fully realize what that meant. As a result, the organization wasn’t structured to accept and utilize the new capability and/or they didn’t understand how the new capability “works”.


For example, if the CEO of a medium size, family-owned and operated manufacturing company decides to implement a Six Sigma program. The company recruits a “black belt” in Six Sigma and gives that person the mandate to get the organization fully compliant within 18 months. They have authority to form their own team and to use that team to develop, design, and implement organization-wide changes to support the program. The only person the black belt answers to is the CEO.


What happens when the black belt begins telling Henry the production supervisor who has been with the company for 35 years and is married to the founder’s granddaughter that the way he’s always done things “has to” change?


The same thing happens in companies which aren’t family owned. The connections and support systems which were formed in the trenches of founding the business and getting through the day-to-day have a real impact how willing we are to look objectively at who is in the organization, what they do, and how well they do it.


The bigger challenge is to look at ourselves and say whether we can or that we will take on more challenges to develop skills or deal with aspects of the business we don’t like or feel comfortable with. We also have to look at our support team and determine if they currently have the capability to handle everything which comes across their desks and will be coming in the future.


There are points in each business’ stage of development where capacity and capability have to be transferred or added. The timing varies from business to business, as does who is taking over and how the transition will be made. It doesn’t always mean getting rid of the people who have helped build the business to its current successful level. It may mean asking them to step into different roles which are not the key leadership roles they have been handling. It may mean that they step up to leadership roles and leave the details of day-to-day operations to someone else.


Before the transition is made, many questions have to be answered:


What type of changes need to be made?

How quickly must the changes be made?

What is driving the changes?

What deliverables are there to external stakeholders?

What areas need to change most, least, quickest?

What resources are going to be needed?

How are we going to maintain capacity and service levels while making changes?

How can we do this with respect and concern for the individuals and still do what is right for the company?


The biggest question of all – Are the change agents truly committed to the change regardless of who gets uncomfortable, resistant, or disruptive? If not, then all the “best and brightest” hires you make aren’t going to help your business. Without support and commitment from the top, the business won’t achieve a positive return on investment in new ideas, people, and processes.


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