Leading through tough times …
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1. Leading through tough times …
Are we in a recession or not? Apparently, nobody knows, and maybe it doesn’t matter. The Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson once wryly observed that Wall Street has correctly forecast “nine of the last five recessions.”
What I’ve noticed in my own local area (Philadelphia) is that the national economic trends are not necessarily impacting everyone the same way. Some companies are feeling it, some aren’t.
Under extra stress, some leaders find themselves in uncharted territory, doing things they might not ordinarily do …
- They work longer hours than usual trying to get things on track.
- They push direct reports harder to accomplish more with less.
- They try things out of desperation they typically wouldn’t even consider.
Effective leadership principles work in both good times and bad. So, reminding yourself of the fundamentals will help you overcome any current challenges.
Here are some survival tips that will help strengthen your organization now and in the future:
- Clarify goals from top to bottom. Make sure everyone, from the top down, understands what your company’s major goals are. Be as specific as possible, and confirm that understanding. Many corporate leaders assume that because they understand the goals, everyone else does, too. And then, only when disaster strikes do they learn that wasn’t true. Don’t wait for a catastrophe. Confirm and reinforce goals at team and individual meetings. This will ensure your staff members are all pulling in the same direction.
- Make sure roles and responsibilities are clear. In tough times, it’s essential that the right people are doing the right things. Under stress, a company’s structure can become loose, as people try to do more with less. Take time out to review who is doing what and why. Tempers often flare when it’s discovered – usually too late – that people were mismatched with tasks. Ensuring that job descriptions are clear and that responsibilities are distributed correctly will result in more efficient operations.
- Be nimble about processes. Inefficient processes steal time, money and resources. Review all key processes regularly to make sure that deliverables are being handled in the most efficient way possible. If you discover obstacles, give the staff time to develop new and better ways of doing things. Ask how much time they need to solve the problem, and ask them to suggest more than one option. The amount of time they need signals their perception of the size or complexity of the problem. Asking them to think of the solutions ensures they will be on board when proposed changes are enacted.
- Don’t overheat the engine. In a company, the “engine” is the staff. You may have to demand more of your staff when times are tough, but if you burn them out, you’ll wind up paying dearly later on in replacement costs, training, and any bad-will or negative PR you get from working people to exhaustion. Everyone needs breaks, rewards and motivation to persevere. Make sure you reward staff, give time off appropriately and show your commitment to their well-being.
- Communicate honestly and often. When times are hard, it’s typical for people to fill in “gaps” with their own worst fears. If your company is feeling the pain of the economy, be honest with your staff (to the extent possible) about the firm’s situation and your commitment to improving things. Hiding facts — especially about the company’s future, layoffs or anything else — will send the rumor-mill into over-drive. If you communicate honestly and often about the status of the company, its future and – most importantly – the staff, you will earn the respect and confidence needed from the staff to pull through.
Leading through tough times has important benefits. It challenges you to motivate yourself and others to achieve more than you may have thought possible. Surviving tough times gives you greater confidence in your leadership skills. And managing through the difficulties gives you a greater appreciation for the skills, talents and fortitude of your staff. All of those things will contribute to solid success in the future.
2. Stay connected … for free!
If you currently use http://www.gotomypc.com as a way of connecting remotely to your home or office computer (or if you don’t use a service like that), check out http://www.logmein.com. It gives you instant (and free) access to your “base” computer, it’s easy to use, and the settings let you control the way you see and use the target system.
If you have employees who travel, or who wish to telecommute, remote access websites are fantastic. Haven’t used one? It takes a minute or two to download the software and set it up. Check it out! (There is a free version and a few paid versions, depending on your needs.)
3. News …
- Conducted the pre-hire evaluation of a senior financial executive who was hired and is doing great at her new company.
- Helped a firm restructure leadership at the top to smooth out the hierarchy and make sure that reporting relationships were clear and effective.
- A recent coaching project helped a senior manager adapt her leadership style to make sure everyone on her team feels connected and motivated (they do now).
- In August, I’ll be co-presenting a coaching program to senior executives at Siemens.
- My brother Jon just launched the new website/online portfolio of his firm, Weiman Design … check out his excellent web and print design work at http://www.weimandesignllc.com/
4. Wondering what you missed?
I’ve been writing this newsletter since 1999, and there is a lot of information, strategies and helpful tips in the archives that you can access for free. Just go to:
Main subheads are listed on that page, along with links to associated articles.