How to Engineer a Successful Corporate Bounceback

1/ A good bounce back strategy needs to start with effective stabilization.

The first thing a paramedic will do when arriving at the scene of an accident is stabilize the patient. In business, the idea is to prevent the situation from worsening in terms of defecting customers, cash flow and employee morale. Management needs to swiftly take control and aggressively stabilize the situation before it worsens.

2/ An effective bounce back strategy needs a good view of the future showing a shared destiny.

Seeing your company with fresh eyes may be impossible from the inside so it’s necessary to bring in consultants to provide a fresh perspective. External consultants are also useful for maintaining peace in a company where hard feelings might result from difficult choices.

3/ A true bounce back strategy must go beyond the financials.

It needs to focus on strategic and financial health. A strictly balance sheet-based turnaround strategy is often a red flag as the company makes deep cuts including areas where they need to invest to sustain a healthy turnaround. Cost should not
be reduced at the expense of competitive advantage or growth opportunities.

4/ A sound turnaround strategy must stop managers from wasting time blaming others for your company’s problems.

There are always external factors but a company should be able to navigate those changes. Focusing on the things that make people feel like they cannot control their destiny is not something you want in a turnaround situation.

5/ A sustainable turnaround strategy needs to address the most fundamental problems and tackle the deepest underlying causes, not just the symptoms.

Bounce back plans must be sufficiently broad and deep to ensure that all the mission-critical strategic and tactical issues are addressed. An incremental approach to change will not work for a turnaround situation – it only diminishes the bounce back opportunity.

6/ A successful bounce back strategy needs strong leadership.

Contrary to the belief that it takes a ruthlessly hard-driving dictatorial style to make things happen, it takes both a top-down, command-and-control leadership style as well a softer technique to bring a sense of purpose or a shared destiny to the company. Not many leaders possess both, but it takes both to master a turnaround.

7/ A true bounce back strategy must be supported by a high trust team.

It is not one person’s job to bolster collective creativity and energy needed to power up the company’s morale and battered confidence. The team not only needs to buy into the vision but also communicate it across and beyond the organization. Trust is key and, in fact, probably the biggest fallacy about any turnaround is that everyone must own the change. It is not just the job of senior management. Trust needs to be built from bottom to top and is a result of integrity, transparency and accountability.

8/ A strategic turnaround needs focus.

Strategic focus is what makes up a sound strategy; you would be surprised how many large organizations operating without a strategic focus are running on autopilot. Strategic focus means there is an end state – a destination must be intrinsically and economically attractive based on an underlying demand for that service or product.

9/ Behind any bounce back is a strategic dialogue.

These interactions among stakeholders and leaders are crucial to employees’ motivation and trust level. The leadership’s vision and value translate into employees’ perceptions of trust and credibility. Employees form leadership prototypes in their minds and then use these schemas to compare with other leadership styles. They do it at a subconscious level.

10/ To sustain a high performance bounce back, you cannot make performance your core focus.

That will mislead you. The real performance depends on soft strategy – the corporate culture that fosters collaboration and trust and that reinforces the alignment that will sustain any renewal.

 This article originally appeared in MISC summer 2013, The Bounce Back Issue 

the author

Idris Mootee

Idris Mootee is the publisher and editor-in-chief of MISC and CEO of Idea Couture. See his full bio here.