After nearly 30 years as a management consultant, I have learned that to make any real difference to an organization you must start with the top person.
You can deliver seminars and training to employees. You can work one-on-one with the senior executives. You can do all manner of things but to be of real benefit to an organization, you must handle the organization leader.
L. Ron Hubbard wrote in an article, “Dissemination Tips”:
“It is far, far better to spend weeks getting to meet the man in charge and then handle only his personal problems, and only then get into what his group is doing.”
Examples of this may be: Can’t he get others to do what he wants? Does he have trouble confronting another key company person? Does he have a problem with his personal work ethic? Does he lack some important bit of management know-how?
I realized that a company is a reflection of the CEO’s or owner’s thoughts concerning the organization. Those thoughts materialize into the company itself. Unless those thoughts change the company will not experience any lasting improvement.
When I first began consulting I was unaware of the vital importance of this datum. I would try to make the place “better organized” or “more financially sound.” These were often my own fixed ideas of what needed to be done. I’d spend most of my time working with middle managers as the boss “was far too busy to spend much time with me” and I felt it safer not to disturb him or her. I’d develop a wonderful organization structure for the company, write up job descriptions and issue these to the relevant employees. At other times I’d set up the company’s financial controls more effectively. The top man or top woman would apparently be delighted, pay my bill and the employees seemed happy. Sometime later I would return to find the job descriptions decaying in a drawer and the organizing chart crusted with dust behind a cupboard or the financial systems again in disarray. Nothing had really changed.
Investigating further I’d discover that the CEO or owner had, through neglect, direct order or suggestion set aside all the changes I had implemented, putting everything back to how it was—including all its problems. The company was again something he or she “could think with”.
Now, by working with the top person, getting them to freely choose to change their ideas about organization and then educating them on how to organize correctly, I found that they would make the needed changes themselves. When it happened this way I could leave the company and come back years later to find the beneficial changes not only still in place but expanded and reinforced.
In L. Ron Hubbard’s famous “Essay on Management” he states:
“Before one can judge management one has to consider the goals of an enterprise…”
A key aspect of the help delivered to the top person must be to have them formulate a clear and definite goal personally, and then formulate a clear goal for the company. Once those are in place all future efforts are linked to making those goals real.
There are times (with very big companies) I have worked at helping only the CEO for up to one year before anyone else in the company even knew anything about my consultations.
Always work to change the mind at the top. This is the only completely workable way.