In early October of 2013, our business’ 3rd quarter(Q3) results were finalized and the 12 month projections were re-calculated.  The reality of the situation our business faced for the fiscal year as our CFO shared the results and forecast.  WE WERE $3,000,000 SHORT OF OUR EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) FOR 2013.  This forecast was deflating to me and my colleagues on the Business Leadership Team.  Through September, we were exceeded expectations established for our business’ contribution to the corporation.  To see the 4th quarter(Q4) projection was going to come up short felt like a kick in the gut!

Throughout the year, the entirety of the organization had been kept informed of the progress we were making across every measurable area of performance.  Now, the Business Leadership Team had to prepare to provide the performance results through Q3, but also the Q4 and full year projections to the entire organization.  To a person, we just couldn’t accept this result for the over 1,000 people who had fully committed to achieving success in our business  EVERYONE in our business participated in the profit sharing bonus, which was an added incentive to the motivation in performing well for our clients and their patients.  To a person, everyone was informed about the potential of level of bonus they would receive by meeting or exceeding our targets.  EBITDA was a main contributor to the bonus pool, and the self-funding mechanism for the payout.

As we all quietly reflected upon the full year projection, the leadership team knew the course of action that was necessary!  Our people had carried our business’ steep improvement in performance in safety, quality, regulatory audits, efficiency, and financials.  We knew we needed to share the performance through Q3 and the projection for Q4.  Our disappointment in the full year forecast coming short started to fade.  WE KNEW OUR ORGANIZATION WOULD HAVE SOLUTIONS!  The key in the communication, demonstrate with facts and data the reality of what we’d achieved over the past 2 years and our confidence in overcoming this $3,000,000 challenge!

As the Business Leadership Team  first met with the Operational Leadership Team, we were all looking forward to their reaction to the situation we were facing.  I’ll never forget the response of the Operational Leadership Team!  They looked at the results with optimism.  They saw the $3,000,000 gap as just another opportunity to rally the organization to overcome the challenge!  To every person in the room, they asked for some time before the Q3 results and full year projections were communicated in Town Hall Meetings.  They asked for a couple of days to look for opportunities to close the gap and come back to the Business Leadership Team.  Additionally, they asked for the Business’ Leaders full support, which they received unanimously.

Over the next two days, there was a lot of interaction and planning.  The sales and project management team found opportunities to increase 2013’s sales forecast by working collaboratively with our clients who were experiencing high demands for their medicines.  The finance team laid out a plan to reduce the level of Account Receivables.  The manufacturing and packaging teams came up with plans to ramp up output further.  The quality team established plans to accelerate batch record reviews, analytical analysis, and product releases.  The logistics team laid out plans to gain freight on board timings to recognize revenue generated by batches released to our clients.

As each team presented their plans, the buzz of excitement in the room elevated higher and higher!  We were ready to take the results of Q3 and the full year forecast to the rest of the organization and the schedule was set.  Over the next 3 days, the 8 Town Hall Sessions required to personally present to the entire population were held.  Following each session, each Operational Lead Team met with their organizations and finalized plans for success.

Another key component to closing the year out successfully was instant and constant communication of the progress we were making towards our goal!  Daily, reports were generated and shared in team meetings.  An innovation from the Operational Leadership Team was to play a “caching caching” sound when each batch was shipped!  The organization across the vast campus would stop and count the number of “cachings” and cheer with each batch shipped!

Our organization achieved the full year, delivering on all key measures, including closing the $3,000, 000 gap for the full year EBITDA measure!  The power of a fully engaged workforce in combination with leadership who truly viewed the People as the Solution is an unstoppable force!!!

If you are interested in reading about real experiences from life and lessons learned from them, Bosses are Hired…Leadership is Earned is available on Amazon!