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Not too long after joining a small division of a large company, I discovered the division was in very serious trouble, with threats of shutting the division down. I needed to figure out how to turn things around – and quickly!
The main problem – Projects were failing. The underlying reasons: 1.Extremely lean staff, 2. Many projects weren’t feasible – the mandate for the project would be make this factory’s manual operation automated with a robotics based machine (believe me, this can’t always be done efficiently), 3. No processes or governance and, as a result of all this, 4. Low morale (many of the associates were busy looking for their next job).
We couldn’t fix all of these problems: for instance, the leadership mandate – no more staff until we were profitable. We did decide to bring in more feasible, but very challenging, project by signing up a new external customer (we had previously only had customers internal to the company). We could implement best practice processes and governance but this wasn’t going to go over well until we dealt with morale issue and won the associates over to the benefits of new processes.
Low morale and low productivity go hand in hand. It was pretty much like being in a sinking ship. People saw the situation as hopeless; we needed to change that attitude.
Strange as it may seem, this new, very huge challenge helped turn us around. We received the new contract to produce something that we were not at all sure we could achieve. We were concerned about schedule, specs, staffing, risk and a lot of unknowns. I convinced the staff that successful completion of this project could turn things around for the division.
We saw this challenge as a way to show our skills and ability. I continued to drive home the concept that this project was the key to our division’s success. Successful completion of this project would bring good return to the division but would also convince our VP that we were a powerful team.
I took the team to a motivational lecture about owning the results of their work. This truly inspired my unmotivated team!
We owned this project and were driven to succeed. The fact that this was the biggest challenge we had yet encountered was a great inspiration. We weren’t victims of failure but rather owners of our own success.
It is a good thing that we were motivated and now thinking positively as our lean staff had to work long hours to ensure on time delivery. I found the value of being a hands-on leader on this project. I figured out all kinds of non-conventional ways to help the team (testing equipment for instance) and more conventional ways such as vendor negotiations to bring needed products in quickly.
The project was a success and did indeed convince the company of our division’s value. We kept our eyes on the goal of turnaround all through the long hours and hard work required to achieve this goal. We had a vision of a better division and made it a reality.
Cite this blog post:
MLA: “The Relationship of Change, Motivation and Turnaround.” MSS. MSS. Blog. 08 April 2015.
APA: (2012, Jun 22). The Relationship of Change, Motivation and Turnaround.