Michael Tait Illustrates Executive Coaching and Mentoring in a Company Turnaround Situation
Interlink specialised in hole-in-the-wall cash machine software and in payment switching software. They had been trading for 14 years and had 120 employees in London and operated subsidiaries in Dubai and Australia. There was also a software development team in India. Turnover was £14m and the company was making heavy losses.
CR2 was an early stage banking software business based in Dublin and the management team there wanted to acquire Interlink. CR2 were backed by private equity firms ACT and GIMV who refused to back an acquisition unless an experienced turnaround CEO was brought in. Michael Tait was selected to take the helm of the troubled business and turn it around on behalf of the new parent, CR2.
Before going into Interlink Mike studied important documentation such as accounting reports, staff CVs, previous board minutes and management reports to get a very basic picture of what had been going on. There was also some pre planning work and preparations such as preparing staff and customer announcements, writing management and staff reference documents, working out order of meetings, and defining actions needed to write a business plan for investors.
There were some disturbing first impressions. These included; insular top management; a lack of trust between staff and management; management consistently missing their own forecasts; lack of action
against losses; finances out of control; directors filling their pension funds; awful staff morale; products tired; no business plan. On the plus side the products were still saleable and the company had good second level management and excellent staff.
THE FIRST DAY – MENTORING BEGAN
Having had the old directors clear their desks and leave the company some immediate actions filled Mike’s first day inside the business. These included; making a staff announcement and taking questions; calling and briefing all overseas subsidiary managers who then called their customers with the takeover news; calling all top customers to settle them; issuing customer and press announcements and assigning managers their specific actions. Mike then immediately began closely mentoring the directors, managers and staff to help them through this very unsettling period.
THE END OF THE FIRST WEEK
By the end of the first week, all other customers had received calls and Michael had met with several customers. One of the greatest challenges was the flood of people that had decided before the takeover to leave the company. This was at all levels. Mike worked hard to persuade leavers to stay.
By the end of the first week Mike had held one-on-one meetings with 30 non-management staff giving his personal commitment to mentor them during the difficult period ahead. Mike held bi-daily management meetings to keep close control of actions, monitor morale and coach and mentor the management team collectively. Mike made some promotions to strengthen the management team.
The high cost of the ineffective directors that left the company was all that was needed to reach the targeted cost reductions and focus was turned upon the pipe-line and bringing in sales deals. A number of projects and programmes were also identified as non-viable and these were quickly discontinued. Mike mobilised the sales team with new incentives, specific targets and most importantly, he invested a lot of time coaching the sales team.
A SWOT and Conclusions were completed on several areas of the business for discussion with investors.
ACHIEVEMENTS BY THE END OF THE FIRST MONTH
Some key milestones had been reached by the end of the first month namely; A SWOT and Conclusions were completed on all areas and a business plan written and were communicated to investors; all business programmes had been examined in detail and were either discarded or set on a better footing; Mike had had one on ones with 50 of the staff who were responding well to the coaching and mentoring; the weekly staff announcements and meetings continued which were increasingly held by management rather than Mike. By this time staff morale was showing real change. The work done with the sales team achieved I much better drive on sales deals.
7 MONTHS IN
Some very significant results were achieved within 7 months of taking control of the business, namely; almost every member of staff (over 100) had had at least one one-on-one meeting with Mike. A lot of them had several; not a single person left; staff morale was very high; the team achieved the highest sales month in their 14 year history; delivered four months of profits – £200k per month; Interlink sent cash to parent company, CR2; a full-time CEO was hired and installed.
The job was therefore done.
The emphasis on this assignment was on coaching and mentoring the staff at all levels. In a time of great unsettlement, mentoring and coaching brings people together and creates a bond with whoever is doing the executive coaching.
Mike Tait specialises in executive coaching, CEO mentoring, board level mentoring.