Phil had a problem. He knew that in order for the business he founded and led to survive and thrive long term, it needed to transform the way it operated. But there was a complex human mystery that needed to be solved before he could make the changes necessary. This is the story of how Phil used BehavioralOS® (BOS) to debug the communication dynamics holding his team back and future-proof his business.
Phil Carrigan is the founder and President of Morunda, a Tokyo-based executive search firm focused on the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Sector. In 2018, Phil emerged from a year-long recovery from near-death experience to see the business with fresh eyes. The situation was stark. Though revenues were still good and the business had survived his absence, he could see clearly that the way the company was operating wasn’t sustainable. As Phil put it:
“We were changing, we didn’t want to work the way that we had worked. What got us to where we were was not gonna get us to the next level, and we knew if we wanted to have a long-term sustainable business that is firm and enjoyable, we needed to flip the whole thing on its head.”
But chronic communication problems had led to festering resentments and a culture of fear that posed an existential threat to the very existence of the business. There wouldn’t be any successful transformation of business process without addressing the people problems. It was clear to Phil that without swift intervention, top sales people would soon leave, communication would continue to erode, and revenue would soon begin to dry up.
Phil brought in BOS to decode the the complex human dynamics that were preventing him from implementing critical process changes and threatening the business.
The first step was to conduct a BOS Group Scan to get a behavioral x-ray of the whole team. Phil used the data from the group survey to get a high resolution picture of what specific behaviors needed to be prioritized at the leadership level in order to begin transforming the culture. Next, it was time to focus on individual relationships amongst the leadership team. With the help of BOS coaches, each member of the leadership team used BehaviorTuner® to exchange direct, non-anonymous 1-1 feedback. The impact was swift and significant.
Reflecting on his own data-enabled feedback conversations, Phil commented that he “had a lot of ‘a-ha’ moments, and they reinforced things that I might have been feeling but did not have the vocabulary to describe the feeling or behavior.” As each leadership team member got deeper into their own behavioral expectations and assumptions with each other, Phil notes that the process helped them “build up trust with one another.”
In addition to improving interpersonal relationships and increasing trust, the organizational culture was starting to shift. The office became a happier place. The team finally had a common behavioral language, and a proven repeatable process for talking about the hard stuff.
The business impact impressed Phil. As he put it, the improved communication process “allowed us to do our client meetings much more effectively, and give feedback to our clients more effectively, and to candidates.” Retention issues resolved, and Phil recounts even being able to help a team member make a decision about moving on that was mutually beneficial.
Phil also has seen an improvement to the company brand. There has been a marked increase in the number of candidates reaching out to Morunda to work there based on its reputation as a great place to work. This has afforded Morunda’s leaders even more selectivity with new hires, ensuring that new hires fit in with, and contribute to the new healthy culture. Phil describes the reputational boost this way:
“I think because of the training and tools, and because of the changes that we’ve made, we have big fans inside the the company. We don’t just have employees, we have rabid fans. It is not uncommon now for people to say, ‘I love Morunda.’”
With a new foundation of trust, and a culture powered by direct, open dialogue, Phil and his leadership team were able to successfully implement dramatic business changes—reinventing and future-proofing Morunda. As a result, Morunda has continued to thrive and grow through great volatility in the market and a global pandemic. When asked how he had such vision for addressing the people issues before process, Phil demonstrated why he is such an effective leader:
“I guess I’ve been in the business long enough that, you know, it’s the way that we had worked, this business can be fairly transitionary, it’s a service business. So all you have is your people, and in any business, whether you’re making widgets or you’re a service business, the most important aspect of that business are the people who are in that company. And if the people are either unhappy, dissatisfied, then it doesn’t matter if you’ve got the most wonderful product in the service in the world, it’s the people that make the magic happen.”
As for the future, Phil is already looking to further digitize the business, while at the same time investing even more heavily in BOS communication tools and processes to foster direct dialogue both internally and extend the benefits to clients and candidates. Whatever challenges come, the Morunda team now has the trust and communication dynamic to adapt, innovate, and continue to build more rabid fans.