No matter how successful a leader is, they will have done very well indeed to get through a career without encountering some serious challenges or difficult times. Doreen Yarnold offers some areas of focus when those times arise.
All companies go through testing periods and these are the times when people look to their leaders to help drive their teams through it.
The key thing to remember during these times is not to panic. Just think clearly and focus on some ways to get through the difficult times and come through the other side.
Here are eight areas for leaders to focus on…
Get closer to your business. Not by micro-managing but closer so that you can see the key parts. Your job is to get them fit for purpose and fit for business.
Make sure that you are giving clear direction to your key people and make sure, in turn, they are giving that direction to their teams too.
Ensure that your teams are being kept in the loop and that information is cascading through to your line managers and leaders. Communication is critical and of key importance. If you think you have communicated enough, chances are that you won’t have.
If you are enduring difficult trading times as a business, you have to know how your market is moving and anticipate the next movement.
You can only do that through a mix of market intelligence, knowing what your competitors are doing and what approach might be successful to take for your business. Ask yourself, what can you do to adapt?
In difficult trading times, less is often more. The biggest mistakes managers can make is that they try and fix everything that is going wrong in the business.
It’s actually about being focused on fewer areas and making sure that your leaders and managers are also focused on the same things.
I recently wrote an article on managing in tough times. A key point from it was: “Eliminating yourself from the everyday stuff and the noise that people wrap themselves up in, in favour of objective-related activities in a few focused areas, will drive more meaningful results.”
Make sure you have clear operational guidelines that reflect the tough trading conditions. Everyone needs to be on board with what is going on. They also need to know what the problem is and what you believe the company is going to do about it.
Let people know what is expected of every senior manager, middle manager and team member.
Everybody must know what is both needed of them and expected of them. What are the ideas that are identified as key to turn the business around? What needs fixing and don’t forget to discuss how the ‘normal’ areas of the business will be managed during this time.
In our experience at Leading Results, we have seen many troubled businesses focusing on what they normally do – and then adding in complexity with new layers of new focus areas too. If that happens, the impact of everyone’s efforts gets too diluted and what they do becomes meaningless. This can lead to disorganised chaos.
People are critical in these times so keep them in the loop. Make sure you are accessible, approachable and crucially, visible too. They need reassuring.
Make sure there is a healthy balance in the business between engagement and accountability. Everyone needs to stand up and be counted.
You know someone is a great leader when they can rally the troops in tough times. If you involve the troops not only in the problem, but the solution too, you stand a really good chance of getting through it.
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