We are all suffering the impact of the depressed economy. Sales are down, margins are lower and profitability is either in jeopardy or lost. Facing this downturn is daunting, and many will be overwhelmed and undone.
But that’s the good news. Because if you use this time to become analytical, self critical, and open to change, and willing to make some hard decisions, you can take advantage of the overwhelmed and undone and not just survive, but thrive.
Remember, your competition is reeling just as hard as you are. If you are more aggressive, more flexible, faster acting and more tenacious, you will not only survive the short term but you’ll also garner market share and strengthen your position for the long term.
STEP 1: IT’S NOT WHAT TO DO BUT WHAT NOT TO DO
You can’t walk into an employee’s office or a department meeting and provide your team with the impetus or catalyst to make changes or add more tasks without first helping them offload some of what they’re already doing.
In most organizations these days, the bulk of the team is at or over capacity. I rarely walk into a business and see people goofing off or looking to avoid work. Most often people are working hard and scrambling like chickens sans skulls to meet deadlines and get their work done. And unless the top managers are bullies or tyrants, most team members actually do care and want to do a good job.
Unfortunately, in most organizations there is no support or process for identifying what not to do. In short, saying yes to things is easy, but saying no often seems nearly impossible. It’s just like telling people to “focus” or telling them to work smarter and not harder, and unfortunately, it’s just as meaningless.
Once you have people focused on fewer things, they will usually have far more clarity and have the capacity to take on change, new practices and new efforts.
Much like the business as a whole, there should be a regular process for each member of the team to look at the bottom 10% of what they are doing and divest on a regular and ongoing basis. And this shouldn’t be done by accident.
Most often the things that don’t get done are not the least important. Instead, they’re often the most challenging, have the least support and the most constraints -- though in many cases the biggest payoff. The decision the team or team member makes around what not to do, and what to say no, to needs to be conscious and deliberate.
You must provide the goals, tools and measurements that let people know what task is a low priority, what doesn’t make the grade, and what needs to be cut.
Remember – addition by subtraction is still addition.
Step2 – Goals, tools and measurements. Are we looking at the right things?