90-Day Leadership Alignment Process
A Case Study of Impact
Current360 has been in business for over 31 years and during that time period we have experienced a steady and calculated growth trajectory, beginning the journey in the bedroom of our founder and CEO, Rick Schardein, and reaching our maximum in billings in 2014, employing 48 persons with offices in two states. Unfortunately, toward the end of 2014, we suffered a few “setbacks” to put it mildly — losing our largest client and suffering severe budget cuts with our second largest. We went from some really profitable years and strong growth to the stark reality that we had to make some drastic changes and quickly.
We had always met each year to strategically discuss our company and plan for the year ahead—as much as one can in our business. We even created a list of people we would lay off if need be so that it wasn’t an emotional decision amidst an emotional situation. Most years we would meet, come up with a strategic plan for the year ahead and within about 30 days, forget about everything we discussed including implementation. We were so busy working in the business that we did a poor job of working on our business.
At the end of 2014 we laid off 15 people. We didn’t have a clue of how to even handle a layoff of such magnitude for our small business. Even with 48 people, we were a “small” large family and lifelong connections had been created. And it happened that the time of year, near the holidays, didn’t help the situation. Nothing like letting people go a few weeks before Christmas. Needless to say we canceled the company Holiday party and did the best we could to explain why the changes had to be made. Even in our honesty, we had damaged our culture so badly that the people left behind feared the ship was sinking and several more folks bailed. It was truly a “dark time” for our company.
We limped along for the next year and a half and with every new client, there was a bit of hope that began to infect the office climate. We still had some issues like the “factions” that had formed and tried to exist on an island unto themselves. It was bizarre dealing with division amongst our employees and the “us versus them” mentality when it came to leadership. We had lost their trust in our ability to lead and make great decisions, and because we were all scrambling to get new business and keep things going, we were not pursuing our culture and taking care of our people.
Jeff Peden has been a longtime friend of our founder, Rick Schardein. Personally, I have known Jeff for 20 plus years (I am married to Rick) and he is a true inspiration and one of the most positive people on the planet. He knew we were struggling and offered to help. We were a bit nervous at first, letting someone like Jeff learn about all our “dirty laundry”, and then there was the financial commitment that working with Jeff would require. We were still worried about payroll and our line of credit and getting new clients and yet we knew the most important thing we could invest in were our people. We were now at about 25 folks. And people still had fear in their hearts.
The leadership team decided to move forward and give Jeff’s process its full support. Our first outing was planned for Jefferson Memorial Forest, a place in KY where we could truly get away and spend half the day in a company-wide meeting and the other half learning how to work together again and build trust while being outside in the park. Everyone had to participate and we had to commit to turning off our phones and giving it our full and undivided attention. A few weeks before the event we announced this offsite meeting with very little knowledge ourselves of what to expect. Jeff had a purpose in not arming us with any prior knowledge about what was going to happen in the morning meeting. He didn’t want us to think about it ahead of time and consequently we could barely explain to our employees what exactly we were going to be doing. “Just wear comfortable clothes and tennis shoes and make sure your clients know that you will be out of touch except for a few 10 minute breaks throughout the day to return phone calls.” So, imaginations began to run wild. One employee told me he thought we were going to go off site and have one great big “bitch” session. Oh my!!!
I can’t really tell you much about Jeff’s process because I would be giving away bits and pieces about what has become the best thing that has happened to our company in years. What transpired that day at Jefferson Memorial Forest forever changed our ability to work together and trust each other. And today, we continue to implement his process with only slight adaptations to our culture. It has been 6 months and an amazing transformation. The first 90 days were critical and you MUST find someone in your organization that can (is authorized) and WILL HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE. This is key. After the 90 days, it is up to you and your employees to decide if you want to continue. It was a unanimous decision in our company to continue Jeff’s process and even now, we are expanding the ways we work together on our business. People are excited to come to work again. They feel an open and honest communication with each person at the office and that is just going to continue to get better with Jeff’s program.
If you care about your business and want to ensure its success even beyond your involvement, then Jeff’s Leadership Alignment 90 Process is priceless. You know what you invest in the training and preparation of just one employee. For a little bit more money, you can experience a culture change and even better financial results by building a team that “Takes it to the MAX!” We now have teams that are working together to help cut costs. To develop better metrics for reviews and promotions. To hold people accountable in using our system and to also celebrate when we win a new client’s business. It’s been an amazing opportunity and we are grateful that we took a chance and let Jeff Peden show us what true leadership is really about and how his process can positively impact all areas of our company.