When a company is not quite sure what is wrong, or just wants to look for cracks as part of an ongoing proactive improvement plan, an operational audit is a fantastic tool for measurable results.
Undercover Owner Assessment
We were hired by a company with about 200 employees to come in and do an undercover assessment. We discovered numerous improvement opportunities in systems, succession planning, expense reduction and revenue generation. But much like the show on TV, two issues jumped out as needing immediate attention.
There was one manager who was perceived by the owners as being fantastic. Her department was tight and she was incredibly knowledgeable with massive experience in her field. She presented herself well in board meetings and always got results. However, day to day life in her department was a different story because she was a tyrant and treated her employees terribly. This person stood out immediately as someone that was rough around the edges and could cause a serious law suit if not properly trained. The other improvement opportunity was the company culture. Part of the culture, instilled from the top down, was to take care of everything for their customers. This is a wonderful thing for a product company like a cell phone manufacturer who owns their product and sells it directly to consumers. But it is not necessarily a good thing for third party service companies like law firms, consultants, or accountants to “take care of everything”. Full disclosure is a better philosophy for these types of companies because they don’t own or control the business they have been hired to advise or assist with.
The owner did take advantage of the other opportunities but chose not to change the culture or this employee. Sadly over a short period of time, both issues took their toll with lawsuits and the company went bankrupt.