By Erica Olsen
To Change an Unhappy Company Requires Strong Leadership

The sad truth is that unhappy companies all look alike:

  • A belief that employees are dangerous and lazy. If you treat people as if they’re worthless long enough, eventually they’ll either believe you (and behave accordingly) or they’ll spend all their energy trying to build a paper case that you’re wrong. Either way, your customers (and you) lose.
  • A conviction that customers cannot be trusted. Managers at unhappy companies foster an environment in which customers are kept at arms’ length from everyone except the sales department. Needless to say, customers usually reciprocate this lack of trust and never share the needs and frustrations that might lead to new products — and new partnerships.
  • A focus on policies, not principles. Although individual employees often recognize the damage that these rules have on loyalty and customer value, the lack of clear principles — that employee satisfaction matters, that creation of customer value is how we grow the business — means that the system stays in place until it’s tipped over by a more-principled competitor.
  • An obsession with today, not tomorrow. Unhappy companies squeeze the same products and processes like stones for next quarter’s profit — and then wonder why it all seems that much harder the next quarter, and the quarter after that.
  • Leadership in all the wrong places. Unhappy companies have leaders who make grand promises for revenues but never meet with customers; make grand demands for efficiency but never commit dollars to execution; and make grand noises about change but never do more than reshuffle the deck chairs.

Are you at an unhappy company? Do any of these sound familiar?

Modified thoughts from John R. Brandt