Four often forgotten elements to a successful turnaround

It is not often that I get to listen to a big business guy talk about his trials and tribulations inside a global business. I know that I often felt frustrated when I worked in big business – I just didn’t think I could make a difference.

I found it refreshing to listen to Bill Pulver, now CEO of Appen Butler Hill, but, before that, long-term career guy with ACNielsen/NetRatings.

I wondered what I would do with a business that turned over $20 million a year but had lost $70 million in the past three. Would I be able to get it to profitable in just two years? I was pretty keen to hear how… and the first thing he said was, “The most fun you have in business is growing a great team of people.”

Here are Bill’s four essential elements to a successful turnaround:

1. You can’t manage what you can’t measure – find a way to know the right numbers to measure.

2. Good leaders communicate relentlessly.

3. Know your ‘service profit chain’; that is, employee satisfaction creates customer satisfaction, which in turn creates shareholder satisfaction

4. It is very important to push yourself outside your comfort zone and ask a lot of questions from a lot of people; that is, constantly reinvent yourself to survive, grow, and keep learning.

He left the group with some other gems:

  • Great leadership skills are transferable between industries.
  • Focus on building a great team rather than the exit – the outcome will take care of itself if you have the right people in place.
  • Always treat those around you in the way you want to be treated – respect is paramount.
  • Fun is more important than money – enjoy every step of the journey with great people around you.
  • You can motivate people enormously, simply by telling the truth and showing them the numbers. Being truly transparent as a leader inspires people.

Thanks Bill for sharing your experiences – appreciated. And thanks too to Entrepreneurs’ Organization for putting on the event – great to be back and see so many familiar faces.

Naomi Simson is considered to be one of Australia’s Best Bosses. An employee engagement advocate, she practises what she preaches in her own fast growth business. RedBalloon was named as one of only 13 BRW Best Employers in Australia in 2012 for four years in a row with an engagement scorecard of over 90% in each of those years – the average in Australian businesses is 54%.

One of Australia’s outstanding entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a passionate speaker, a blogger and a published author, most recently publishing Five Thanks a Day. She has received many accolades and awards for the business she founded, including the 2011 Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year – Industry.


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