7 Antidotes For Corporate Destruction

Some time ago, I wrote about a company that was in the process of being destroyed by its owner who took a disturbing approach during a tough revenue cycle. The results were some expense reductions as well as top managers leaving after being demoted, employees threatened about sharing information with others, customers departing for competitors and some operations being terminated in the chaos that ensued. One person was able to nearly decimate a company that many had collaborated to build.

At the time, I incorporated the paradoxical approach made famous by Jay Haley’s classic, “The Art of Being a Failure as a Therapist.” Instead, let the following be the antidotes that everyone should use to mitigate such destruction, even in challenging economic circumstances.

  1. Be open about what is going on financially. Yes, some people will leave, but others will offer constructive solutions.
  2. When employees and managers tell you the culture is deteriorating, listen. Ask for specific examples and potential remedies at all levels. Then respond and let others know your plan.
  3. When people leave the company, conduct an exit interview and listen to them, including any themes that come to the surface. Share what you learn and have your plan prepared.
  4. Be as fair as you can in offering severance to any employee who leaves. Talk about the context if you have significant financial limitations.
  5. Be compassionate for anyone who leaves and do not publicly denigrate employees with “performance issues.” Most employees may agree with you publicly, but they will wonder what you say about them when they are not present.
  6. Reach out to your customers and if there is a pressing financial issue, offer a solution, as best you can. Waiting and hoping they won’t notice the problem (e.g. late payment) will exacerbate your problems and lessen their trust in you.
  7. Be appreciative and encouraging to others, and seek what you need to be a purposeful and positive leader. This increases the likelihood of creative action.

The antidotes noted may not save a company that has made some serious financial errors, misjudged a marketplace or failed to adapt to innovation. However, they can relieve the pain and counteract unnecessary poison. On the other hand, they may make recovery possible.