Since fall of 2007, when the “yogurt” first hit the fan in the mortgage crisis, and subsequently each time more “yogurt” was splattered since then, I’ve been regularly preaching to my clients that the time to act on this is right now, not reacting to the news and hoping things will get better, but being proactive to seek out the opportunities that come out of all this uncertainty. Here’s the basics any business leader needs to do to weather this storm.
1. Adopt a positive attitude to prepare for the recovery, whenever that may come. It’s going to come, maybe not when you want it to, but it will come. Convey this attitude to your team, with confidence. Get them looking forward and getting thinking and acting on the things they can do to make a difference.
2. Take this time to fix all the things that are broken in the business. When you are in a growth mode, you tend to accept less that the best processes and even less than best effort, so as to not hinder the growth. There is no time for less than the best right now. Fix the processes that don’t work. Eliminate the waste that is found at the root of poor process. Go deep on this. Set standards for best performance and coach your team towards it, holding them accountable to it.
3. Pump all your communication. To Customers. To Vendors and Suppliers. To your Bankers, and most of all to your employers. This is not the time for anyone’s head to be in the sand. Clear, urgent, transparent communication about the situation is necessary. Fierce conversations with all of these groups will bring out the solutions, and more importantly shift the responsibility from your shoulders alone to everyone’s. It lessens the pressure and allows creativity to rise to the top.
4. There isn’t any room for C Players on your team. Evaluate the team. Motivate and keep the “A” players. Coach the “B” players on how to get to “A”. Free up the future of “C” players. Don’t under any circumstances do across the board cuts. You’ll lose your “A” players, whom you need.
5. Go back to the basics of good leadership and good business practice. Keep it simple. Narrow your focus to what you do best. Focus on customer relationships and retention. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! Execute! Execute! Execute!
My clients who have followed this general advice and applied it to their specific situations are dealing the downturn better than those who haven’t. In many cases they are thriving while competitors are diving. They are leading instead of reacting.