Bad Attitudes

By ,

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
~Joe Klaas

I was the fix/close/sell guy in our 50 year old family-owned company for 6 years. My team and I rationalized 12 under-performing businesses to 3. Time was the enemy. Cash was flying out the window. The quicker we got to problems, the better. The businesses were populated with a fair share of pissed-off people with bad attitudes. They knew better than management where the entrenched problems were buried. The ones with really bad attitudes got us to the problems the fastest.

We identified the competent folks with the really-really bad attitudes; tenure was a bonus. I personally conducted “discovery interviews” starting at the top of the list. I said that if we didn’t get to our problems quickly, they could kiss job security good-bye. All I cared about was what they said, not how they said it. Scream and shout. I didn’t care.

The bluntness freed them up to give me the truth. Much of it was hard to hear, but we uncovered the core people, capital, and communication problems within the first 5 interviews, and we were off to the races.

Ask your tough people what they think.  It may be hard to hear, but you’ll be glad you did.

 

WHAT CLIENTS ARE SAYING

  • “Chris jumped in to serve as Project Liaison when cost overruns materialized during our major capital expansion .”

    — Gary Boehm, Headmaster, Maumee Valley Country Day School
  • “Chris provided terrific guidance during my transition from COO to CEO.”

    — Jeff Walsh, CEO, Sasser Family Holdings, Inc.
  • “Working with Chris is the epitome of the student becoming the teacher.  His approach is unconventional and priceless.”

    — Todd Greibe, CEO, Residex
  • “Chris installed the platform, discipline, and team that transformed The Andersons railcar start-up into the company’s most profitable business.”

    — John Barrett, Chairman & CEO, Western & Southern Life Insurance Company
  • “Chris offered a keen ear to help me clarify my thoughts and surface viable alternatives I would have missed.”

    — Andrea Bhatt, Former EVP, General American Chemical