Krebs wanted to build a stronger organization that would not let such things slip through the cracks. With the support of his board, he set out to build a trusted group of direct reports in key roles that could help him implement his plan.
“I focused first on our general counsel and on our head of human resources,” Krebs says. “I thought getting two individuals into those roles to be part of the brain trust with me would give me the necessary levers to pull to start the ball rolling on this process of making over the entire company.”
Krebs put together a team of about seven people who were all new to the company.
“There was no institutional memory and no connection to any of these past ways of doing things,” Krebs says. “The fresh sets of eyes that I brought in could very easily see what it was that I was trying to do. After communicating the plan to them, they could carry that out in their areas and into their groups and direct reports and start to amplify the communication and direction and the need and rationale for change.”
A fresh set of eyes is often what’s needed to accomplish major change, but it doesn’t always play well with the remaining people who are being asked to adapt.
“There’s just no way around the fact that when you start the ball rolling down the path of change, there is going to be a lot of resistance,” Krebs says. “There were people who bought in and people who were very resistant. But we needed to move to a more centralized, standardized and system-based organizational structure.”
As he brought in outsiders to help, Krebs’ focus was to find people comfortable with what they were being asked to do.
“You need to be as open and direct as you can when talking to them to be able to gauge their reaction and response to the picture you are painting,” Krebs says. “There are some people who you can see their eyes light up and others cringe at the challenge. It’s not for everybody. It’s just thinking a lot about those individual roles and what you need to find and thinking about how they fit together.”
Momentum is a critical part to any change initiative. When change is being proposed and then implemented, it needs to be clear that the plan is moving forward if you want to maintain confidence in your leadership.
“You have to find people who aren’t afraid to stand up and be accountable and who aren’t afraid of being held accountable,” Krebs says. “People who were in experiences where there was a net under the tightrope; that just doesn’t fly in an environment like the one we created. We needed to find people who were not afraid to jump in and start rowing.”