Weathering the Storm


turnaround engagement

A common question at the outset of a turnaround engagement is “How long will you be here”. No two turnarounds are identical, and so there is no simple answer.

For engagements involving interim management, four to six months are not uncommon. The first step is to identify a team of employees who will help implement and drive the turnaround plan. This will come naturally for some employees, but not so easily for others. Each functional area is critically examined, not for the purpose of placing blame on individuals for the company’s current situation, but with the goal of fixing what is broken. The team dynamic not only breeds a diversity of ideas, but also builds a camaraderie (that probably did not exist before) focused on a common goal of turning the company. The longer term objective is to place the company on an upward trend, one that management can continue after Jim is gone.

For consulting engagements, four to six weeks are common. The difference between interim management and consulting is that consulting assumes existing management can implement the required changes once they are identified. Management’s ability and willingness to accept and implement the changes are often the dominating factors in how long a consulting engagement runs. Experience indicates that once management gets over the denial stage and begins to see the results, the engagement continues but with less frequent on-site presence by the turnaround professional.

How big of a staff will CCA bring to the engagement? Experience with small to mid-sized companies repeatedly shows that with an experienced turnaround professional as leader, the talent required to identify and implement the changes already exist within the company.

The key concepts are DENIAL, ACCEPTANCE and COOPERATION. Management must stop denying that problems exist. Management must accept the changes needed to fix the problems. Management must cooperate with the interim executive or consultant to make it happen.