Mentor Hot Seat: Rodney R. Proto on The Business Turnaround Method

As a business leader and mentor, Rodney R. Proto clearly has the experience to back up his mentorship. He’s brought Armada Waste’s strategy to the forefront talking about waste management and environmental issues.

Through his 30 years in the salvage and waste management industries, his businesses have expanded from $60 million in sales to over $375 million. Certainly enough to give the Shark Tank entrepreneurs a run for their money!

Here’s a dive into the subject of business and improving or turning around struggling companies.

Rodney R. Proto, mentor

Hire Right the First Time Around

Recruiting well in business is a key skill. It has to be shared from the top down through human resources recruitment policies, but also human interaction too.

As Proto has pointed out, “A friend of mine has a policy that unpleasant people will not work for his company. That’s been proven time and time again to be true.”

The idea with the “no unpleasant people” credo is that, regardless of qualifications and experience, if the individual is fundamentally a nasty person, it won’t work out well for anyone. That is especially true when so much time and attention is put into the eventual hire that the company cannot accept that they made a poor hiring decision. Service is the key to success, so having the right people on the job to deliver the best service is pivotal.

Doing so, they block themselves into a corner and cannot escape, so their whole team suffers poor morale when dealing with the unpleasant person every workday.

Fire Quickly and Get the Right People

The employees are the engine of the business. Whether wanting to perform better as a company or to turn it around before it hits the wall, without the people to power the company’s engine, it will stall out. Then the engine won’t start up again.

When there’s been a bad hire, and it is obvious, don’t wait to do the necessary thing. Send a clear signal to the troops. It’s better to admit a mistake than resolutely stick to a bad decision. However, if they’ve been with the company for years and you believe the issues can be worked out, don’t abandon them.

Look for positive traits of solid workers and dependable hires. It’s not always what’s on the resume that counts. Someone personable and articulate is going to get along with others better. A person looking to learn, grow, and take on more responsibility is likely to advance as the company expands rather than get left behind. Create a screen to filter for positive traits to save time.

Teamwork Matters Enormously

Managers cannot do everything alone.

A solid team is necessary to build a sustainable business. Make clear decisions and be decisive. When you’re indecisive, the team don’t understand the decisions or why they should care. Then the company is like a rudderless ship.

Establish clear expectations from each member of the team. This gives them the opportunity to improve their performance where necessary to meet the new standard.

When turning around an underperforming company, look for leadership problems at or near the top that need addressing. From there, the team needs to be re-motivated with a clear new direction and clarity about what’s expected of them. Everyone has to pull together to dig the company out of the hole, but the employees must have a sense of direction to believe there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Boris Dzhingarov is a business writer who investigates issues to craft great stories that readers love.