CEO For a Day: Focused Leadership

Women of  HR were asked, “If you were CEO for a day, what would (or did) you focus on to improve an organization's productivity, employee engagement or ability to recruit?”  This is the final post in the series of responses. You can see the other responses here.

Today’s post is about what I would do if I were a CEO for a day.  As I sat down to write, I thought to myself, “I am a CEO of my own consulting firm”.  However, I immediately realized that I have NOT “only” been a CEO for very long because I am always doing something else in addition to running my own business (currently teaching & ILSHRM).  So this post is not just about if I were a CEO for a day at a big name organization like Apple, DOT Foods, or Crayola, it’s about my being a focused CEO – a CEO of a company where I didn’t have to also worry about a second job or a volunteer role within my field.  After all, the series description did say to discuss what would we focus on for a day.  Specifically, what would we start, stop, or change to improve an organizations productivity, employee engagement, or ability to recruit.

So to begin I would start my day by “walking around” and engaging discussion with the staff.  I can’t tell you how many books I have read over the years that suggest management by walking around as a positive management technique that drives results.  Most recently I finished a book called “How Full is Your Bucket” which describes a manager who started his business trips to all the organizations sites by researching who had done what at the location he was heading to.  The morning before his meetings he would search out those individuals and say “I have been hearing some good talk about you” then proceed to be specific about that person’s performance.  This was his way of positively filling the employees bucket which improved performance and engagement.

Next I would research the organization's reputation in the area, on the Internet via social sites, and among employees relative to what it was like to work there.  In one day it is certainly not possible to stop everything that could be putting a damper on the possibility of the organization to be considered an employer of cho

ice but I would at a minimum put together a STOP plan to help the organization push forward to improve its ability to recruit.  Included would be things they could start or change as well to improve their position among other organizations within the community.

By the afternoon, I would bring the management team in for a 15 minute conversation each to determine who had a positive outlook versus those that might have been considered downers, complainers, or pessimists.  This is also an idea from the bucket book.  A study was done with couples immediately after their wedding.  The researchers talked to them for only 15 minutes and counted how many positive vs. negative things they discussed in that time period.  With this little time frame they predicted within 95% accuracy that would stay married after 10 years.  If I use this same philosophy I think I could pretty much predict which managers were negatively affecting employee engagement and productivity just by the way they communicate.  So the most important thing I could change about the team is to remove the bad apples because even one bad apple can work quickly to sour the others and if I were only going to get a day to make a difference I would want to leave the organization with optimistic, positive thinking, go-getters.  People leave their managers not the company.

Finally, before the days end I would meet with the entire organization to share my vision, get them involved, motivated, and encouraged that they have what it takes to move the company to the next level.  With a little help from the finance team as we prepared through the day I would share not just the enthusiasm and excitement but the actual numbers to prove the ideas set forth through the day by the positive thinking management team where indeed a reality?  As with everything all good things must come to an end.

My day as CEO ends but tomorrow is the beginning of a brand new era for the organization.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

About the author: Donna Rogers, SPHR is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area. You can find her on Twitter as @DonnaRogersHR.


About the Author

Donna Rogers, SPHR

Donna is Founder and CEO of Rogers HR Consulting. She has a Master’s in human resources development from UIUC, a Bachelor’s in Public Relations from ISU and two associate degrees in Information Management and Pre-Business Administration. She has maintained a senior HR certification since 2001 and earned two additional HR certifications as late as 2019. She regularly delivers numerous presentations among professionals at meetings, seminars, and conferences locally, nationally, and internationally. She is on Twitter as @RogershrConsult