A Difficult Task
Transforming team communication is a difficult task. Just look around your office and think about how many different thought processes, leadership approaches, and communication styles are represented. Most days, fostering seamless communication between so many different people while working hard to raise up good leaders feels more like herding cats than it does leading a team. When facing more concrete problems, such as financial issues, technical challenges, or production processes, frustrations can be limited by the fact that there are more easily definable alternative paths to take. In contrast, “people issues,” leadership problems, and personnel development strategies occupy a much more intangible space, oftentimes leaving leaders feeling frustrated and helpless in their pursuit of answers.
If you’ve ever felt these pain points, there is good news: you’re not alone.
As we covered in the first post of this case study series on communication, there are plenty of organizations and leaders out there who feel just as overwhelmed as you do. It’s a long road, but transforming team communication is a crucial effort that will pay huge dividends for the bottom line, culture, and future growth of your company. In fact, we found that shareholders experience an increase of 47% returns when companies improve communication. But even exciting research like that can feel removed from on-the-ground reality, so we’ve decided to dive into an in-depth case study on one organization to show you how they’ve tackled their own journey.
Finding the Problem: Pain Points
Let’s talk about pain. In the same way our bodies tell us something is off by triggering pain receptors, so too do a company’s cultural, organizational, and profitability challenges signal a deeper pain point that needs addressing. Such was the case with Jayne’s Construction in 2013.
The New Mexico-based construction company faced all the normal concerns businesses around the world deal with on a daily basis – from strategic planning to employee development, there is always so much to monitor and improve to prepare for the future. But after having to close offices in San Diego and Las Vegas, Jayne’s realized something deeper was going on – the familiar path wasn’t working and that began to make them nervous. That’s when the leadership team decided it was time to take a closer look at their organization – to follow the pain and let it tell them where they were hurting. After all, you can’t fix a problem you can’t diagnose.
Shad James, CEO, and his executive team had to be honest with themselves and admit that the source of their issues came down to their own inability to fill, cultivate, and maintain a quality leadership pipeline. In an admirable display of humility, Jayne’s’ leaders owned up to the fact that every major issue kept coming back to people failures, and that meant they were responsible. As a leader in that situation, it’s easy to feel guilt and frustration at the thought of failing your people. But good leaders, including those at Jayne’s, take responsibility and press on toward learning and progress.
Further digging revealed that the company struggled to consistently train, retain, and cultivate leaders of high enough caliber to sufficiently sustain growth. Because the leadership and communication culture suffered, so too did scalability. Jayne’s inconsistent process for developing leadership capacity and team performance limited their ability to capitalize on growth opportunities. Sure, they might have produced one high quality leader every 5-10 years who could handle top-level duties, but neither the rate nor the quantity proved sufficient to fill the pipeline needs for sustained organizational health, much less growth.
What You Don’t Know WILL Hurt You
Once Jayne’s leadership realized the source of their issues, they began conducting a deeper investigation into its causes and effects. Why don’t we train people well? What do we need to do better? How can we improve communication? How do we expand leadership capacity? These were all questions that began to surface as the company tried to understand the weak links in their process.
For example, in Jaynes’ 2020 vision meeting that year, they began the session by asking a series of questions that proved to be revealing in its lack of answers, but also constructive in the clarity it provided for moving forward:
- If you were gone tomorrow, who would be your replacement?
- If you were gone in 3 years, who would be your replacement?
- What role would they take?
- What resources, training, investment, etc. would they need to become better leaders?
According to Shad, it became obvious where the gaps in their leadership pipeline and preparation existed. Such intentional planning and cultivation simply didn’t exist within the current process, therefore the company’s leadership bandwidth was limited and it’s “bench” of available or up-and-coming leaders to draw on was far too shallow.
Simply put, the Jayne’s leadership development process lacked intentionality and effectiveness. Consequently, they struggled to both retain good leaders and train great ones, which hindered healthy growth. In short, the stakes were high and the leadership team knew they couldn’t afford to ignore the challenges at hand.
And while Jayne’s was glad to identify some of these high-level issues, the team still lacked the expertise to fully address the problem. They felt stuck and helpless on their own. Even so, they pressed onward to find someone who could help them build an effective, sustainable system for improving leadership capacity and team communication.
After much research, they came across a business consultant named Maria Guy from GiANT Worldwide. Maria had experience helping similar companies in the past, and from her website, they saw she was on a mission to help companies that were struggling to build internal leaders. They decided to reach out to Maria and see if she could help them address their challenge.
In the next post, we will highlight exactly how, together, the Jayne’s leadership team and Maria were able to build a plan to overcome the daunting challenges that kept Jayne’s from reaching success.
This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how to identify your personal and organizational pain points, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!