When the meeting began late on a Friday afternoon, the CEO got right to the point. Dan was a 15-year executive with the company and, the CEO believed, a friend. He deserved the direct approach.
“Dan, as you know we are in the midst of a lot of changes, many of which impact your division. Because they are so critical to our ongoing success, and given your reservations about these changes, I have decided we need to go in a different direction… Janet (the CHRO) is in the adjoining conference room. She will brief you on the generous severance plan that I have approved. Then security will escort you to your office and then we want you to leave the building. This is your last day. I am so sorry but we cannot afford any more delays on the organizational changes that we must make.”
What the CEO should have said is “you are being terminated because you have repeatedly blocked change. That you cannot seem to adapt and have ignored our efforts to get you to change is the reason you are getting the sack.”
This story is not an isolated event in corporate America. Industries facing major challenges to their business models — newspapers, television stations, book publishers, book sellers and healthcare, to name a few — are having to make painful decisions regarding who will remain and who will be shown the door. Frequently those chosen for termination are those who have dug in their heels, the same executives and managers who have not expanded their knowledge base or skill sets to address the needed changes.
With transformation comes more than a little irony. Companies almost always spend more time envisioning the change, creating the elements of change, and pushing implementation, than in helping their employees figure out how to adjust, how to adapt.
When your business model is under attack and your organization’s future is in question, stumbling, mumbling and fumbling the execution of change is not an option. Without the buy-in of the workforce, stumbling, mumbling and fumbling will be the least of the organization’s problems.
Jay Baer, founder and CEO of Convince & Convert, an innovative social media and digital media advisory firm and a true thought leader in this field, says companies may want to consider a new executive for the C-suite: Chief Mindset Officer.
Why not? In healthcare we have lots of chiefs — we have chief experience and chief engagement officers along with five or six other chief positions on the executive roster. If the Chief Mindset Officer can help employees understand, and adjust to, change, then it will probably be worth the investment.
© 2019 John Gregory Self