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Warning! This article includes stuff that you may not want to hear. But you need to!

truth_000Ok I am going to just come out and say this. It may seem harsh but I think you need to hear it and we need to address the elephant in the room.

People are behaving badly in your business or organization because you let them. There. It’s said. Now let’s get on with it.

Harsh you think? Nope. It’s your reality and yes I do understand what you are going through. I have been there too. I inherited a team that was behaving very badly because the previous leader allowed them to and results were suffering accordingly. My challenge was to turn that around.

One of the most common, consistent and troublesome issues in business is people. As leaders we manage people with different personalities, confidence levels, wants and needs. The dynamics within the business can be complicated and exhausting. On the flip side of this, managing different personalities can be a collaborative and rewarding experience too. It depends on what action you take as the leader.

It’s quite fascinating really when you think about it. You can see the people behaving badly. You can hear the people behaving badly. People complain about the people behaving badly. You continually complain about the people behaving  badly. But to address it seems like hard work. So you choose to let it go. You choose to accept the consequence of this. Though you know you can’t afford to. And it eats away at you, day and night!

And it did me too, until I could take it no longer. I didn’t want a business full of lazy, gossiping, bullying and angry people in my business that had such a sense of entitlement I thought I’d walked into another galaxy let alone a retail business!

So what did I do to turn it around? You may be amazed because it was quite simple. However, this simple approach required discipline, conviction and very effective communication from me. It required carefully planned time and for me to walk my talk. This was the most important part. The role I played. Here are 10 actions that I took that helped me take the team with the worst culture and sales performance to the best within 9 months.

  1. Create The Culture. I engaged all of my leaders and asked they did the same with their team, to define the type of business they wanted to work in.
  2. Behavioural Standards. I worked with my leaders to establish the types of behaviours we wanted to see in the business and within the leadership group and importantly those we didn’t want to see in the business. We got down to specifics. The beauty of this is THEY were defining this. Not me. This was their culture, I only managed it. This was a key distinction.
  3. We rolled these behavioural standards out across the whole business.
  4. I clearly articulated what I stood for as a leader and what the expectations were that I had of my team as leaders and for sales performance. They then have a choice whether they worked within these or not.
  5. I explained reward and consequence to the team and what it meant for them. I then walked my talk for the good and bad.
  6. I addressed issues in a timely manner. There was no time to stew, the conversations were had and actions put in place.
  7. All conversations were planned, purposeful and with outcomes. I didn’t waste people’s time. I made quick and well informed decisions.
  8. I got to know my team on an individual basis and understood what made them tick. I then knew how to have great conversations with them and we built relationships based on trust and honesty.
  9. I praised and thanked a lot. People do great things in business that goes unnoticed because of the few that are making your life tough. Don’t let this happen.
  10. I reinforced, and reinforced and reinforced the expectations and the culture. We didn’t waver and when that massive ship started sailing to success, we were all on the same course. And it felt good!

Was it easy? No! Not at all. Did it get easier? Absolutely. I had 130 people, 26 direct reports and a huge retails business to manage. I learnt through trial and error. Basically, I did what it took and reaped the rewards. And you can too. No question!