As some of you may recall I have been working with a fifty-driver carrier who contacted me for some consulting services for their growing company. I have called this company Freight Haulers Express (FHE) for the purposes of their anonymity and so I can show some of the thing that we are dealing with as we try steer this company’s actions more in line with what their objective are. In short they are going through growing pains and that process can be extremely painful if not done properly.
As you might recall, I started with my trying to convince these folks that developing a company value statement was not a tree hugging, lets all hold hands, touchy feely thing, but it is the base that when developed correctly, with everyone in the company involved, will allow change that can be sustained. With most small companies the Values of how the company is ran is dictated by the owner and their actions set the tone for how day to day interactions will proceed. Once the company begins to expand however and the owner is not as visible simply because it’s physically impossible for them, there are just too many moving parts to touch everything and make all the decisions.
The president of the company stated unequivocally that he wanted to grow the business and in fact wanted to become the dominant player in their sector of the industry. With this in mind we started to build an organizational chart that would accommodate that future. We also drafted attributes or Role Descriptions for each senior manager within the Organizational Chart. This is a tough one in that the owner was asked to keep the current staff out of mind while we did this. The question is what skill sets would be required to fill all the senior managers roles under the new structure. The tough part is of course some of the current staff might have been very successful playing a role in a smaller company but might struggle within the new structure. Look at it like this, under an autocratic structure this person’s job is likely to take specific orders from the owner on almost all task. When a company grows this role is likely making decisions autonomously within the boundaries set by the owner or a board of directors. This might seem insignificant to some but it is not, this seed change is essential for the owner to get where he wants to be with FHE and considering that many of these relationships may have been in place for years, tough decisions will need to be made.
To digress a little, when the owner made a decision to ask me to accept a role in this companies growth as a consultant/coach I had my own set of rules that I needed FHE to understand. First was that my contract with them was for one year, that being said if prior to that time there is dissatisfaction with my service they are free to let me know that and with 30 days notice I’m down the road, no problem. I have had some success over my many years in this industry, certainly not everything I have done has been a success, I have been kicked hard a couple times actually, but I think I have learned from those hard knocks. All in all though, I’ve done not to bad, and truthfully I don’t have to do this type of work, I do this because I genuinely enjoy it and chances are if they’re not happy with me, I’m likely not feeling good about the arrangement either so lets cut bait. The other prevision is an understanding by them that with significant change usually comes some disruption to performance of the company, in other words it is likely that they will suffer some tough months as we implement the plan before we get back to normal returns and then eventually we will enjoy the full success potential of FHE.
Here is where were at right now, although the company is slowly transitioning itself into the new structure there are still those who are resistant to the changes that are coming at them. This was predicted to happen. So on Monday of this coming week I am traveling to FHE’s head office to get things moving once again, not that their completely stalled but they have cooled down. Some of their people are dead set against change, any change, I call it loyalty to the past which might sound like a good attribute to have and I would agree in most circumstances it is. That is unless you are working for a company that is expanding and organizational change is necessary, then this type of loyalty is in the way and will likely be dealt with one way or another.
I come armed with documents and stories of my past battles, I recall having almost an entire new Management Team when I went through the very same situation FHE is in today. I recall when we started into this process I had to many Bobs at the table, these were folks who said the right things and bobbed their heads at the right times. But as soon as the meetings were done they went right back to the way they had always done things. Within six months though the only Bob’s that were at the table had actually been born with the name Robert.
I look at these types of situation with very determined eyes, each role within a structure depends on the other, unless all are pulling in the same direction with the same purpose there is distraction and there will be less than optimum results. This issue needs to be addressed before we can move forward. If there is a company out there that knowingly accepts that substandard performance then they are never going to be rewarded with the type of results they are capable of. Heavy is the head that wears the crown and tough decisions need to be made when change is needed, Ill let you know how I made out next month, maybe there won’t be one?
Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations. All posts by Ray Haight