Undoubtedly there are times when an organisation or function needs a shake-up. One approach is to bring in an outsider. Someone with no legacy loyalties, no history, no baggage, but with a clearly defined agenda: whether it be to deliver savings, to restructure to align with a changed trading environment, to effect a business turnaround or to fix some other problem.
The description of Lord Digby Jones as the eponymous star of the BBC series The Troubleshooter “…ruffling feathers and bruising egos along the way…” reflects the essential character of the role. Troubleshooters are not there to make friends, or indeed for the long term. BAU does not interest them. They are motivated by the specific problem they’ve come in to fix and need to be tough, focused, determined, secure in their self-belief and sense of purpose.
Once the specific objective has been achieved, the catalyst for change will inevitably move on to the next challenge. This is as it should be as they are temperamentally unsuited to the job of rebuilding the sense of team and confidence and the business cannot afford – probably both literally and figuratively – to keep them around.
So how does a business regain the trust of employees when the driving force behind the maelstrom of change of the past several months has departed?
The route to rebuilding trust
Best case, there will be a strong and credible leadership team waiting in the wings, ready to step up and take the reins. Preferably they should have strong roots in the business but have been operating outside the sphere of influence of the recently departed. Their first task is to demonstrate their belief in and commitment to the longer term viability of the business.
The sort of tangible demonstration the new leadership team might consider is to invest in developing the skillset of their middle managers.
Line managers have a key role in building trust and engagement in the organisation. In his article on The Power of Great Managers, Towers Watson’s Global Practice Leader Adam Zuckerman identified the five key attributes of top-performing managers:
Towers Watson’s five key attributes of top-performing managers:
- Crafting jobs: developing roles that are challenging, fulfilling, energizing and achievable
- Developing people: crafting personalized plans focused on an individual’s long-term growth and development
- Delivering the deal: ensuring employees are rewarded for their efforts using the entire portfolio of intrinsic rewards at their disposal
- Energizing change: building the organisation’s resilience to change by developing the individual’s understanding of and ability to cope with the entire spectrum of change
- Authenticity and trust: acting as a role model of humility, intellectual honesty, interpersonal sensitivity and behavioral consistency.
Good people management is a tough and highly skilled role. The benefits of improving this capability in a business that has gone through traumatic change is obvious. A leadership team that invests in developing the skills of its line managers is building the capability of implementing a virtuous circle of communications – a good starting point for the rebuilding of trust.