The official "prognosticators" have grimly stated that our current economic situation is 1) likely to get worse before it gets better and 2) likely to last at least twelve moths. So what do we do with the time? Here are some of my suggestions:
- Plot your strategy. How many "overnight" successes have you met that spent years refining and executing their strategy whether personally or professionally. In my last position we took some time to reflect and refine our strategies and then launched a multi point strategy with excellent results. (see my case study- a New Paradigm for Credit Unions). Several competitors commented to me later- we thought you guys had given up- you were massing for D -day!
- Examine your team. Anybody else tired of hearing everybody parrot Jim Collins about getting the right people on the bus? You can't just talk about it, you have to do it! If organizations are cutting budgets or slashing product launches and cutting marketing expenses before looking at the performance metrics of your organization and assisting the bottom 10 -15% off the bus you aren't doing what you need to do!
- Look for "blue ocean". Are you proactively looking for new opportunities and new markets? Are their opportunities to bring your product or service into a new sector?
- Examine your systems. I agree with Collins; the enemy of great isn't bad or awful, it is "good" as in "good" enough. Do you have efficient systems in not only data management, but in business intelligence? Is the data being turned into meaningful action plans and being disseminated to the right people?
- Do you have clarity? Marcus Buckingham tells us the most important role of leadership is clarity. Clarity of purpose and vision. Richard Rumelt of UCLA tells us that the key role of management is to remove or minimize ambiguity. Employees need to understand their role in the organizations plan, especially at times like these.
- Do you have an engagement strategy? If you don't you are not alone, but here are some arguments why you should start now. In my article on "presenteeism" I shared with you that we lose $200 billion annually to productivity drain from people who are not fully engaged, are dealing with personal concerns, or just taking up space. In my series on Compliance to Commitment(TM) and engagement I shared the corollary- organizations with high engagement enjoy 21% higher per capita productivity rates, 60% lower turnover, and outperform their peer group averages by 100% on key financial metrics. Their employees see themselves as part of the solution and actively participate in creating solutions, not whining or abandoning ship.
- Are you playing as a team? When business get in trouble or experience tough times I typically see the executive team "huddle" in a conference room making all the decisions: what do we cut, who do we cut, what do we do? Here is a tip- employees at all levels support decisions that they participate in much more consistently than decisions that are imposed on them. I am not suggesting a vote, but giving employees an opportunity to participate in the how if not the what or at least informing them and getting their input conveys respect and value. If your management team and staff can't contribute to these kinds of decisions you might ask yourself why they are part of your team.
I remember hearing that Native Americans ate when food was plentiful and rested when the opportunity presented itself. I also read in Malcolm Gladwell's latest book the difference between a "rice" culture and a "wheat" culture. A rice culture is not seasonal, when you are not planting and harvesting you are preparing for the next growing season. In our "wheat culture" we spent the winter months inside - sounds a lot like "turtling" to me.
So I hope that I have given you somethings to consider. Comments always welcome.