Sooner or later, you’ll be tasked with driving significant and rapid change in your organization. Perhaps that’s precisely where you find yourself today. It’s a common predicament, though one that tends to drive much anxiety and unintended fallout for leaders.
Earlier this year, a regional CEO of a national health system sought my help with a turnaround challenge — a rapid financial turnaround, to be specific. He’d been grappling with how he and his team should lead in the context of pressure for a financial boost. As part of our process, I developed a set of reflective questions to guide his discernment in that regard.
Today, I’m sharing a few of those questions with you. (We’re happy to share more guidance or a more comprehensive set of questions in a complimentary consulting call.) These vital considerations will bring clarity and direction for your own turnaround challenge.
5 Clarifying Questions for a Rapid Turnaround
1. What is the shared goal or mission driving the need and urgency for a major change?
Sometimes leaders narrow their focus to cost-cutting and set aside their mission in pursuit of financial gain. Invariably, changes that don’t serve your mission (or that make your mission more difficult) backfire in big ways, hurting your effectiveness and reputation as a leader.
Allow us to stress the obvious, as it often gets overlooked: It’s important to ensure the changes you are proposing support your mission. Close the gap between your intention and true intention — that is, your desired KPIs and the core vision, mission and values of your organization.
2. What are the most critical near-term results you want to achieve? How do they align with the long-term preservation of that shared goal?
What are the long-term ramifications of near-term wins? Put another way, what near-term options should be discarded because they would weaken or hinder your shared mission and goals in the long run?
3. What are the most promising areas of opportunity in achieving your desired results?
Expanding on earlier points, it’s important to focus on areas of opportunity while minimizing damage to the organization. As you consider what your organization could do differently, also consider what your organization should stop doing altogether without risk or damage to your mission and those you serve. Often, your stop-doing list is as important as your to-do list.
4. What are the most significant barriers standing in the way of realizing those opportunities?
Are there other barriers you haven’t considered or that you’re blind to? Invite stakeholder groups most affected to co-design a solution and carve a way around those barriers.
5. Who are the critical stakeholder groups that will be impacted by the change required to achieve your goals? What are their legitimate interests, and how are those interests threatened by your proposed changes?
Who are the key players and functions who have a stake in the areas you’ve identified as opportunities for change? How can you build rapport with those who are compelled by the threats to their interests, and those compelled by the opportunity to advance their interests? And how can they benefit from the changes you’re envisioning?
Anticipate their objections, invite them into the discussion, and work through their concerns and resistance to change. Giving them a voice and ownership in the process will save you much grief later.
Your next steps
Once you’ve reflected on these questions — on your own, with your teams and stakeholders — answers will begin to emerge that can be put into a structured action plan. We’re happy to share some guidance and an expanded list of questions to consider if you’ll get in touch.
A rapid turnaround is a tall order, and leading through this time can be a very lonely experience. Leadership coaching can help you get there faster, and help protect you from painful mistakes, wasteful efforts or damaged relationships.
Could you use some guidance in a turnaround? We’re happy to talk and point you in the right direction. Drop us a note, and we’ll follow up shortly.