Tough steps for business owners with ERP, Supply Chain, or BPI Projects

For company-wide initiatives like ERP, Supply Chain or BPI Implementations to succeed, there are often two tough steps that senior management or company owners need to take early in these projects, and most don’t talk or write about them. 1. Find “Joe”. 2. Shoot “Joe”.
“Joe” is the employee who is resisting the project, has some level of influence on the project’s team, and is actually undermining (usually covertly) the project with their behaviors.
I have seen “Joe” hold titles from “order picker” to “company officer”. Their behaviors have included repeating passive-aggressive negative comments, omitting information helpful to the project, providing misinformation, sending out signals that differ from the company owners, and even actions serious enough to be found unethical in a court of law.
“Joe’s” impact on the project becomes visible when seeing evidence such as frustrated team members, delays in reaching milestones, rehashing issues already thought to be resolved, the growth of opposing camps within the project team, and even halting the project. If senior management or the company owners do not address this problem quickly, even highly motivated employees can eventually “get it”, and accept that “Joe’s” behaviors are tolerated. When that occurs, the once “high-bar” of performance being reached for by these employees can get lowered to “I guess this is good enough with all things considered”. At this point project costs increase, the company never gains the full benefit (ROI) from the project, and that “good enough” expectation of performance permeates throughout the company and can eventually reach your customers.
Certainly, all efforts, should be made to help “Joe” understand why their positive involvement is important to the project and the company. That’s why they were on the team from the beginning. Converting them is the best outcome for all, and if truly achieved, it’s great. It starts by senior management or a company owner having the “converting” dialog with “Joe”. There are shelves of books written about that. But, even if “Joe” says all the right words during that dialog, follow-up is needed. “Joe” and the team members need proof that you are serious about what you expect. Going back to “Joe” and to the project team for evidence of his buy-in and positive participation is imperative. Avoiding this follow-up, or simply asking, “how’s it going” while passing through departments does not cut it. Avoidance or passive follow-up allows poor employee attitudes and performance to fester. When following up, if you find “Joe” is not converted, make no mistake, “Joe” must be shot by eliminating or marginalizing their costly influence so the project team can regain focus, energy, and achieve the projects best results for improving the company.
Depending on “Joe’s” position, influence, time with the company, or relation to a company owner, this step can be quick and easy by simply removing them from the team, or may require some well thought-out professionally and personally sensitive steps of action. In family businesses, this can be especially challenging and tough to face. I get it. However, keep in mind, that all those who rely on the company’s success are looking for someone to take that tough step. Is it you?

Posted in Coaching

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