Tag Archives: executive

Don’t Ignore the Brutal Facts!

Never ignore the brutal facts surrounding your organisation

How do you usually react when one of your team tells you that they think there’s something wrong with your business? Are you the type of leader with a tendency to react badly to criticism? Or the type who wouldn’t think twice about brushing off your staff member? If you answered yes – then quite frankly, you’re a bloody idiot.


Your employee could be right, and you should want to know about any issues that reflect badly on your company. After all, you aren’t always going to know everything. You need to face the brutal facts, instead of ignoring or brushing off the people who try and help improve your business.

The Harvard Business Review presents a good case study in which the COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? ignored the advice of his VP of Finance who was cautioning their growth, because the VP was a quiet man and seen as “meek”. As a result, the CEO and COO ignored his warnings, the company expanded too quickly and eventually ran out of cash.

In Good to Great, Jim Collins suggests that successful organisations are built on an open communication culture. I’ve shared the four key ways to confront the facts of your current reality and determine corrective action without being confrontational.

  1. Lead by asking questions

It is impossible to make great decisions and change when you only push your thoughts and ideas on to others. If you want to be respected as a leader, you must encourage open and effective communication by asking probing questions at the right time. Show your team that you care about their opinion and throw questions at them that require careful thought and focus. The aim is to get honest answers that may highlight any obstacles and problems with your company.

That said, nothing positive can come from someone who is unwilling to listen to answers they do not want to hear. Remember, most of your workers will be nervous about speaking up and sharing the brutal facts with you. Regardless of your opinion, you must work collaboratively as a team and concentrate on where you need to be rather than what got you to where you are now.

  1. Create an environment where honesty is valued

Being heard is very different from being confident enough to say what you think. Every person that works for you should be comfortable to share their honest thoughts – which is why you need to encourage healthy debates. I’m not talking about arguments and differences of opinions that will put your team in a bad mood.

Just because you’re a manager, it doesn’t give you licence to boss people around. Your job is to demonstrate control when confronted with the brutal facts and guide your workers in a productive environment where conclusions can be reached – and you can all move on. Nothing shows authority more than motivating your people to engage in debate and dialogue without coercion.

  1. Investigate problems without pointing the finger

When things go wrong, most managers like to assign blame to protect themselves from being seen as a failure. Pointing the finger and embarrassing others is why these people will never become great leaders. No one can expect to honestly learn from blunders and avoid repeating the same mistakes when they are in denial about how they came about in the first place.

In the words of Dale Carnegie – “Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” Whatever the situation, take responsibility for mistakes, analyse failures, and learn from them to ensure success further on down the road. One of the most effective ways to deal with a problem is to openly discuss with your team and decide, together, what needs to happen next.

  1. Create invaluable mechanisms

The greatest thing about creating an environment that allows colleagues to communicate problems without repercussions is finding out metrics and facts that can’t be ignored. Did you know that 54% of employees feel like they don’t regularly get respect from their employers? When you invite all the members of your organisation to raise a red flag when something is about to go wrong, it makes everyone feel valued and respected – and helps you identify potential stumbling blocks.

It’s crucial for every member of your group to feel like they are part of a team and can contribute to solutions – and never want to give up. When you know what you’re fighting, you can stand up to it and take action. Whatever the truth, you can still retain faith in your ability to succeed and have the edge over your competitors when you embrace a climate that energises people to communicate.

What is a COO?

A Chief Operating Officer (COO), also known as the Director of Operations, has a valuable role to play within an organisation. More than just second in command to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), a COO is focused on internal day to day operations – the nuts and bolts, so to speak. This allows the CEO to concentrate on investors, partners, press handling and board meetings; to be the face of the business, the job they were ultimately hired to do. When the two positions work in complete harmony, then the company can flourish.

Typically, the COO’s areas of responsibility include production, sales, marketing, research, logistics and development. They may mentor and lead a team of experts in order that the organisation can grow, develop and deliver.

As an example, take a look at this extract from a recent job description at the Society for Human Resource Management.

“The chief operating officer position provides the leadership, management and vision necessary to ensure that the company has the proper operational controls, administrative and reporting procedures, and people systems in place to effectively grow the organization and to ensure financial strength and operating efficiency.”

A COO frees the CEO from involvement in operational details of the business. When the CEO is set the task of considering what is the best thing to do for the company, the COO determines how to make it happen.

While operations are the total sum of the parts, the actual breakdown is determined by what the COO can offer to the role and what the CEO requires from them. The value that a COO can bring to the fore can be at times, tough to replace, particularly within the retail environment which is volatile and difficult to stay on top of. With market and manufacturing trends changing constantly, along with changes to national and international standards and trading agreements, the role of COO is especially vital to larger retail organisations.

A recent report from Ernst and Young shows where COO’s believe they offer real value to the organisations they work for.

The work of a retail COO varies according to the needs of the business and the skills of the CEO and CFO he or she works with, but is constantly driven by the need for cost savings and efficiency.

While the day to day duties may differ, there is a particular skill set that needs to be maintained. In particular, the role demandse need for cost savings and efficiencyss and the skills of the CEO and CFO he or she works with.

considerable organisational skills, management skills, budgetary experience, recruitment experience, policy and procedure handling and an ability to focus on long-term goals. But as always the balance of skill areas is a grey area, and one which is only defined by the particular organisation, the CEO and the company needs.

Business is complicated, and managing a large retail organisation is demanding, requiring more attention that one role can supply. As long as the CEO and the COO can work together, complementing one another’s efforts to shape the business, then success should follow.011616_0048_TheBuyingPy2.jpg

Simplify Chaos

In the world of rapidly changing retail/wholesale landscape, critical projects can make or break a retail business. After working 25+ years internationally in the retail industry, I understand the pain that a botched project can cause. It can disrupt and restrain a business that is otherwise sound, as well as mask further issues within the business.

I have made a career of fixing issues within retail/wholesale businesses and have practical methods to ensure that projects get resolved, one way or another, allowing you to get back to focusing on your core business.  I typically work with retailers that have 20 to 300 stores and I possess the unique ability to cut through the turmoil of a project that has fallen off the rails and get it resolved quickly. I SIMPLIFY CHAOS. Whether it is a bungled software upgrade, a difficult transition to a new warehouse / office, a merchandise planning plan that has not achieved the desired result or an under-performing division that needs to be “dealt with”. After a proper assessment, I will sort it out by getting it back on track, starting over or putting it out of its misery.