Thursday, July 30, 2009
When business stalls, tensions rise. And prospects for a return to growth fall.
If your company isn’t doing very well at the moment, it’s safe to say that there’s probably some testiness–or worse–in the boardroom. Regardless of market conditions, that spells trouble. Consider:
–Target was thrown off its game for months earlier this year, distracted by an aggressive advance from hedge fund magnate William Ackman, who wanted control of the board (see “The Battle for Control at Target”).
And these are just the examples that made the news. Most of the time, companies work hard to keep internal arguments quiet, not wanting to alarm shareholders, employees or customers. While that may be helpful, it’s no better than sucking on a cough drop to quiet the effects of bronchitis. The important thing is to treat causes, not symptoms. In my research among more than 700 corporations, the issue of management alignment (or a lack of it) was a key determinant of whether their fortunes were rising or falling.
The moral? If there’s strategic dissent within your organization, deal with it. Quit ignoring the (often subtle) symptoms like avoidance, eye-rolling or passive-aggressive behavior. Get the key players in the room, close the door, and face the facts. If you need help, trying having your team take a simple self-diagnosis derived from our research and available at www.WhenGrowthStalls.com. Have each person print out their results and lay them down on the table. If nothing else, it will kick start the conversation.
Until you all get on the same page, your recovery story can’t be written.