How Nuti smoothed the change process

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in Firing,Human Resources

When William Nuti left his job as Cisco Systems’ senior vice president in 2002 to take the helm of Symbol Technologies, board members warned him that he’d be facing “issues.” But it was much worse than that.

Symbol’s former CEO had been fraudulently inflating revenues since 1998. In fact, Nuti discovered that accounting fraud had become a routine practice.

Instead of firing people, Nuti tried to see the problem from the perspective of employees who had lived through a period when dishonesty had become routine. He was keen enough to notice that most of the employees were angry and fearful about the changes he would make. To reassure them while he uncooked the books, Nuti:
  • Overcommunicated, “with mind-numbing consistency to every associate,” what was taking place.

  • Honored current employees by citing things that were being done well.
Hard times? Certainly, but Nuti now says he is a much stronger leader for it.

“Once in a while,” he says, “getting knocked on your ass is a good thing.”

—Adapted from “Fast Talk,” Fast Company.

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