The 5D’s Killing Your Business – And How to Address Them

All too often, business leaders are puzzled when the performance of their business runs below expectation. They insist they have a great product that uniquely solves an urgent and current need.  They assert how huge the addressable market is, only to be disappointed by how they are not even able to capture the 1% of the market they figured will result in huge sales creating massive valuation on the road to an exit by a Strategic.

Sounds familiar?

Look closely at your team members for these 5D’s warning signs that could be killing your business in increasing severity levels:

Disinterested employees:  How interested are your employees in the success of the company?   Do they understand where the company is going and believe in its purpose?

Demoralized employees:  Do you have a number of your team members demoralized and why?  Are they facing a range of daily hurdles and stressors that prevents them from performing their job well if at all?

Disengaged: What is the engagement level across the organization.  Is it at the 30% average across all US employers?  Do you have 70% of our employees disengaged?

Disconnected:  Have some people become totally disconnected and merely showing up to put the time and collect their paychecks?

Destructive:  Is it even possible that you may actually have some employees coming to work with the intent of causing harm to the company?

As it turns out, left unaddressed Disinterested employees will evolve to become Demoralized then Disengaged then disconnected and ultimately possibly Destructive creating a downward spiral to failure.

Urban Decay

Photo courtesy of Randy Heinitz(CC Attribution)

Whether you created this problem or you took over the leadership role of an organization suffering from these 5D’s, your role is to figure out how to reverse the trend and very quickly.

Here are some actions you must start immediately on the road to re-engagement and possible recovery:

1.     Immediately increase the effectiveness and frequency of communication throughout the company by instituting a meeting rhythm of daily huddles, weekly meetings, monthly all-hands-meetings (some call these town hall meetings) and quarterly planning sessions.  This will start reconnecting employees to the company and to their teams.

2.     Ensure everyone understands the company strategy and priorities and how what they do contribute to moving it forward its success.  This will start re-engaging employees.

3.     Start investing in on-going employees’ education and organizational development.  This will improve morale as employees notice the company is interested in their development.

4.     Get each manager to be vested in the well being of their direct reports.  This will get most people to want to reciprocate and become vested in the success of their manager and the company.

5.     Instill transparency around goals, metrics and actual results.  Small wins will start re-igniting and re-energizing your team members by believing they can win.

Fair Warning: if your organization is suffering from the 5D’s, it is very difficult to reverse the trend and doing so will require an incredible amount of bias for action, solid judgment, intensity, focus, hard work, a great core team, tenacity, some luck, perseverance and some early wins.  Having led three turnarounds, I came to believe in the notion that turning around a technology company is as difficult as doing a startup with the added burden of dragging an anchor behind you: Very Difficult and Yes, Possible.