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How Best Buy boss led a turnaround by asking staff to do more with less without hurting morale

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Joly recently explained that key to the company’s success is the bicycle theory. He maintained that it’s impossible to ride a bicycle at standstill. 

“You don’t know how good the company can become through better execution,” he said. “So for the first 18 months, don’t even worry about the company’s strategy.”

Instead, he suggested that all focus should be on taking the company forward. “You get it moving, and if it’s not moving in exactly the right direction, you adjust the course,” Joly said. “So without being very clever or very strategic, you see how much improvement you can make.”

According to Joly there are four ways that employers can improve profits. The first two included bosses doing everything they could to increase revenue, while cutting non-salary expenses. Then “creatively manage benefits,” said Joly. If those three steps failed, Joly claimed that reducing headcount would be worth thinking about – but only if absolutely needed.

“For me, taking people out is the last resort,” he said, “because you need to capture the hearts and minds of the employees.” 

Read more about turning a struggling business around:

Joly explained that one of the most efficient ways to progress a business was to enable employees to make quick decisions – which meant embracing culture more tolerant of mistakes. “The difference between great leaders and good leaders is not the quality of their decisions, it’s the quantity of their decisions,” said Joly. “And if you make a lot of decisions, you’ll make some bad ones, but then you make more decisions to correct them. As long as it’s not decisions that kill you.”

He also claimed that bosses should make it so employees wouldn’t have to choose. “Eliminate the tyranny of ‘or’ and embrace the power of ‘and,’” Joly explained. For example, when executives wondered whether the priority was cutting costs or increasing revenue, Joly’s answer was, “Let’s do both!” 

The same concept should apply when it comes to making employee’s happy and an emphasis on customer service. 

“My view is that 98 per cent of the strategic questions that are asked as ‘either/or’ are better answered as ‘and,” he said. “It simplifies things because otherwise people are paralysed.” 

More importantly, however, Joly claimed that your attitude was essentially in terms of turning a struggling company around.

“Energy is not a finite resource in an organisation, it is what you make it,” Joly said. “Irrespective of how much wind there is, how much white water there is, as a leadership team, you need to have a spring in your step, you need to be full of energy and lift. You need to have people believe.” 

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