Never waste a good crisis!

Never waste a good crisis!

A Nepali case just as you know them in your country.
Nepal, land full of energy and drive. With its beautiful nature, the majestic mountains and the numerous hikers and climbers. My backpack is similar to theirs but inside mostly filled with training materials, pens, post-its, folding sheets, rope, tape and a lot of Dutch waffles. On the way to one of the cooperatives supported by Agriterra, for an HR assignment .

HR is a fascinating field, not always simple because it actually touches the control, the governance. It is about the (im)possibilities of change and development and about leadership and investing sincerely in people and is sometimes very sensitive.
Even now, it is actually clear at the first workshop. When the Chairman walks in the temperature goes down another 10 degrees and it is already very cold. With jackets on, hats on our heads, we sit together in the Chairman's room and start the introduction. He occasionally participates in the conversation, sits on his own chair and not between the others. It is obvious that something is really going on here. The cracks about the management and insufficient functioning of the people fly over the desk, right (in front of them) where the people are.
In a way it is special that we can still make some kind of workshop of it. It is interesting to have the attendees ask about their personal opinion again on the development phase of the company (Greiner curve [1] ) and on the HR Health Check [2] .
Of course, a somewhat desirable picture is sketched about the development, but with a bit of questioning you see that this is not correct. And the HR Health Check, which gave a rosy image, turns out to show a rather different score. Each person that asked for their indepent score, score less in a number of areas than initially issued. It's good that there is still time for interviews and deepening and we take that time. Also because in the joint workshop it is clear that nobody really dared to show the back of their tongue in the presence of the Chairman and the General Manager. So, I am curious what exactly is happening now. And even in the interviews there is a lot of whispering and the conversation stops when the Chairman suddenly walks into a conversation, just like that, and then leaves again.
It turns out that where the governance does not work well, a cooperative or company is actually run backwards. In this case too, the cooperative seems to fall back into maturity. There is a serious leadership crisis, the General Manager, as a link between the operation and the board, and the board, in particular the Chairman, no longer speak to each other. All proposals from the management are called off, the changes that the board tries to implement are carefully guarded on the basis of the by-laws by the GM. Innovation stands still, changes are thwarted, dissatisfaction arises amongst people because of a substantial reduction in salaries and allowances. Despite objections from employees and managers, there is no movement. An unworkable situation. It is almost unbelievable that operation goes on. For employees here, such a salary reduction means that you come to the hygiene factors that are based on trust and life (Maslow). And this and the management style of "divide and rule" and sometimes “management by fear” really creates an unsafe situation, both for management and employees. And what you often see in such a situation is that camps arise, also within the management. Senior managers also try to come into the picture in a different way with the board and the GM. So there is no trust in eachother anymore.  They know that there will be elections soon and “wait for the storm to pass”. I also realize how unfortunate it is that I cannot really talk to him to see what he could do differently. If only he would listen. Logical that they do not do that to someone who just comes along as the consultant. Or maybe some do? Outside the cooperative we are approached by some members of the cooperative who are really angry and upset about the situation within the cooperative. The dissatisfaction is out in the open, on the streets.

How do you organize a workshop and training about motivating people and performance in this climat? I really have to sleep on this for a night, even reconsidering that we should cancel to give a signal. But that is also not correct. I am not a part of this, I can do something.
Fortunately, the Chairman’s name is on the list but he does not show his face at the workshop. All managers and staff are there and 6 members of the Board also join and we have a great and interactive day. Learning about ourselves, about cooperation, about giving feedback, practicing a lot and moving and giving insight. And also laughing and learning. Together. And even though I do not speak the Nepali language, the local Business advisor translates everything into detail and non-verbally I speak their language. I see, observe, act and reflect, it means you really see a lot and can act on it. There is no room for development within the cooperative, but this is also development. We look and work with “situational leadership” and what a kind of style does and means, for yourself and for your employees and in the meantime I see and hear a lot.
In this way, I can secretly get away with dealing with some of the themes that are important, name them and make them visible, and cause a small wrinkle. Afterwards, 3 people remain for personal feedback and questions, including the General Manager. A bonus, nice and a good they do it.
I think back to a number of other cooperatives where I have been and realize once more how leadership makes a difference. How you lead is important. And that is the case in our western world and here too. A committed leader, who is open to innovation and renovation, who wants to challenge his people and develops himself or dares to pose vulnerability or an authoritarian leader who wants to realize his goals with just power. What makes the difference between the leader and his style and how well equiped is the management? How do you get them to be aware of these differences? To help them find their own style and to be able to make that difference? Leadership stimulates growth or blocks the growth of people of the cooperative, the style practised by this Chairman is not focused on sustainability. And that means not only in the field of HR but also in the other areas that can be developed. Making a board more conscious of their governance model and also their leadership style (HR) is closely connected. Together they offer ground for change and growth or not. Food for thought and reflection with the Nepali team of advisors. Whether or not to continue, with a heart for the people, for the effectiveness and impact, there has to be focus on governance first. 
It seems time for the slogan "Never waste a good crisis". Lets act.

[1] Greiner curve shows the growth phases of companies and the crisis that goes with that growth
[2] HR Health Check, on the basis of questions, the level of co-operation in the areas of HR Management, Recruitment, Development, Workplace and Safety and HR Planning will be tested.