Sticking a live wire into your company–Part 2

by todaystrainingblog

This is the 2nd part of this post on shocking the culture within your company. The previous post focused on the problems, with an example of really shocking an account I had in the 90s, along with a few others.

 The Solution:

           This is where the shock of touching a live wire to your skin comes in. You can call it whatever you wish. But I will guarantee you that this will work and speak so much louder than mere words alone, no matter the size of your site or company;

Back in the mid-90s, I managed a large national account. It had an Account Manager, 30 buildings, 20 supervisors, and well over 130 officers. The main issue I faced was turnover, 400% per year. The root cause of the turnover? The supervisors were over-bearing, arrogant, ‘do as I say not as I do’, & bullying their officers.

So the solution was fairly simple. I offered a proposal and it was surprisingly accepted by the branch manager, who didn’t like any of my ideas much although they satisfied the clients. An ultimatum was given to the supervisors. Our exact words? “Get better or else you’re terminated, period. Simple as that. No dancing around the issue, no pleasantries. No second chances and no complaining about the changes that were coming down.

In 30 days the officers gave their evaluation of their supervisors. It was kind of surprising how quickly the supervisors shaped up and came into line with corrective actions and current management styles. The officers rated them on the same scale and framework that the supervisors graded the officers.

The officers were not totally adept at the performance evaluations. But after questioning them and taking the time to learn exactly what they meant in their evaluations, it was fairly simple to grade the supervisors. (Note: the officers were asked to rewrite their evaluations after they understood exactly what was needed for documentation purposes.)Most of the supervisors were rated either average or not adequate, which wasn’t exactly earth shattering to anyone.

After the evaluations were completed, we held supervisory training classes and instructed them on the exact policies of the company and clients. They were told exactly what was wanted and needed from them. Some of them…well read on and you’ll see.

The Results:

In my opinion, the results were above average. We lost about half the supervisors within 6 months because they couldn’t maintain the changes they had made during the initial 30 day period, or they didn’t want to. We also terminated about 30 officers in the same amount of time. The Account Manager was also faced with the same fate, before leaving on his own volition within 6 months.

Was this a shock to both the culture of the company/account and client? Of course it was. Supervisors/managers were not normally called out and issued such ultimatums. Will this approach still work today, in any field? Yes it will, I can guarantee it, with 99% accuracy. Sometimes you have no choice but to shock it in order for it to start operating efficiently and effectively.

The experiences I’ve had in the corporate world, working within the restrictive framework of a corporate giant, was never a good fit for me. I’ve had my greatest successes with smaller local/regional companies. However, if you read closely and begin using your own experiences and knowledge of the company, for your own situation you will be able to change the culture nearly instantaneously (which means within the 1st year. If you make it that long without getting fired.

Yes, getting fired is a distinct possibility. Because to put a live wire onto the skin of the culture of your company you have to be ready to do a couple of things. What are they? Break with company policies& procedures, go outside the rules and go against best practices and conventional wisdom. Is it easy to do this, especially in a company that mandates like an Emperor and his fiefdom, from the top down? Not really.

You may think that it is an impossible task to change the culture after what I’ve said, but I can assure you that it will work given time. As with everything I write and talk about you have to take your own situation and tweak the way you start it rolling by your own individual issues. Some cultures can be transformed simply by bringing in a new supervisor, Manager, or other management. Either at the site, local, Regional, or corporate level.

Others take time. The amount of time it will take? It may be weeks, months, and yes even years to totally transform it. But it can be done and it is very much worth the effort. You have to plow your own field and be willing to make people mad at you as you change things, both sides are mad at me. I must be doing something right!


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear