Security, Fire Alarm, Audio Contractor (Ohio)

Overview

The owner and his son, a vice president, run this security and sound system installation company of 63 employees. He has owned it for 22 years. The company was experiencing problems with installations, which the owner thought were caused by faulty software.

Challenges

Employee morale was low and communication between management and staff strained. “I thought I was going to need a software consultant,’’ the owner said. “And I do. But the heart of the problem is how our employees communicate with each other.” Employees felt blamed, not empowered. The owner was quick to point out problems but not welcome constructive discussion among his management team to solve them. Top executives didn’t feel the owner was approachable.

Solution

The owner and his leadership team learned how to “coach employees up” rather than criticize or blame them. The management team learned how to engage in constructive conflict to find solutions to problems. They started having “daily huddles” to communicate with each other. They set goals for the company and then talked about how to deal with the constraints of reaching those goals. The owner learned how to be more approachable.

Results

“We used to walk around and say: ‘It can’t get any worse,’” the owner said. “Today, people feel very positive in the direction we’re going. They can see we’re making progress.”  Also, said the owner: “Before Steven Shaffer came in, a lot of us would go home very stressed out every day. After Steven began working with us … there was a lot less anxiety.” The leadership team communicates far more effectively with each other and with customers. “The one thing that [Steve] created here was he taught the leadership team how to have constructive conflict. They have the right to disagree … in order to come up with a good decision.”