Many companies today are in the doldrums. The economic downturn has been long and hard for most organizations. No one ever expected it to go this long and there is still wide-scale resistance to the “new normal”. And it is easy for executives to play small and shrink during these times but they must do the exact opposite. Below are three actions and mindsets executives must take on to restore momentum, energy and performance in their companies.
Focus on Essential Business Performance and Roll with the Rest
It is amazing to see so many executives focused on the non-essential aspects of the business. Even through the downturn I have observed a resistance to dealing with the real issues. Too many executives are focused on the non-core issues. Others have fallen into the trap of being penny-wise and pound-foolish.
I am sure that part of this came out of the effort to gain a bit more control in a very unstable world and volatile market. Getting your hands around some minor issues must have provided a level of satisfaction. But of course this focus is counterfeit
And this trend did not stop at corporate initiatives but spilled over into employee leadership. Too many executives started to focus on peripheral behavior of employees. Again, it was tempting to become nitpicky instead of bringing a sense of calm and control. When it comes to your reports and employees, figure out what is non-negotiable (specific performance goals and behavioral expectations) and roll with the other stuff. Be hard on results not on people or you will lose them.
Increase Employee Motivation by Seeing Them as Brilliant and Good
These have been negative times for many businesses, And it is easy to let this negativity spread. But leaders are expected to set the right tone and be positive, especially through tough times. This is an essential aspect of what it means to be a leader. Be careful not to let your anxiety spill over into how you view your employees.
The temptation here is to see your employees as things, cogs in the machine to be manipulated to meet the business goals. Do this and you will force them to abandon you. If you see them this way they will sense this both at the conscious and subconscious levels. A significant part of getting the best out of your employees is to see them as brilliant. Employees have this way of stepping up to meet your expectations. If you see them as a pain or as a nuisance far less important than everything else there will be a self-fulfilling prophesy in play. But if you see them as great and as part of the solution there is a much better chance that they will live up to that expectation.
Get Excited about your Business Strategy and the Future
If you as a leader are not excited about the future how will anybody else be excited? Do not fall into the trap of running your business as an academic exercise. If only it were as easy as the business simulations that you participated in at business school. Your excitement and hope for the future will help get the positive energy flowing again and will supply the fuel for your employees to push through tough times.
Your business is not a mechanized contraption. It is made up of people, people who can bring the “x-factor” to overcome obstacles and innovate your organization to new success. Today, visible leadership is as important as ever. And please do not think enthusiasm is just about being a cheerleader. You should express your optimism in your own style. It’s not about faking it; it’s about finding your authentic expression of optimism and enthusiasm.
Focus on the core, get the best out of your people by expecting the best, and get the whole organization excited about the future by being excited yourself.