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