Yes we have a few bigger challenges than in a normal business cycle. Petrol costs are going to have a flow on effect, but given that we are all in the same boat, it will be interesting to see that some businesses will still grow and prosper, while others will give up, fall over, slip into a decline and even close the doors!
If you have staff then you have an opportunity, because company turn-arounds are actually not difficult - updating systems and processes is easy; updating the thinking and skills of the ‘people' in the organization is usually the obstacle.
As a Personnel Manager in the poultry processing industry I observed managers and supervisors working 60/80 hours a week stressed beyond belief while employees leaned against walls bored out of their brains. Yet if anyone dared suggest a better way, EVERYONE in the organization went into paroxysms of fear, denial and resistance. We eventually did change the way people worked in that industry, and the results we achieved amazed even the most cynical.
Working as a consultant, helping organizations who are stuck in old ways of thinking and working, has taught me that there are a few basic steps which can springboard even the most sluggish organizations into results they thought beyond them:
1. HAVE REGULAR MEETINGS. Strange place to start? It is at meetings where honesty begins, ‘stuff' gets sorted out and trust is formed.
2. SWAP THE ‘CHAIR'. If you always chair the meeting you'll miss what is really going on at the meeting. And if you always chair the meeting the meeting will be the same every week or month. It is called groupthink.
3. SHARE INFORMATION. Teach people the cost of doing business; if you don't teach them the intricacies, they'll keep on making costly decisions.
4. COMMUNICATE REGULARLY AND GIVE FEEDBACK - pare back any problem and you will find that someone didn't communicate with someone.
5. BE CONSISTENTLY HONEST! Most managers are honest in bad times and strangely quiet in good! A constant diet of bad news demoralises and demotivates.
6. HELP PEOPLE FIND A WIIFM. Humans resist change because of fear - fear of loss of jobs, loss of power, loss of status. I have learned that the only way to help people overcome a fear is to find a wiifm (what's in this process for me?).
7. ASK FOR HELP. People love helping. Share problems, and you'll be bombarded with a million ideas. Most may be of little value, but you will find some nuggets.
8. TREAT YOUR PEOPLE LIKE ADULTS. Most organizations work in parent/child mode - it debilitates both parties! Treat people like adults and they'll behave like adults.
9. ASK YOUR PEOPLE WHERE THEY WANT TO BE IN 5 YEARS AND THEN HELP THEM GET THERE - you'll never have an unmotivated employee again.
10. WORK OUT WHERE YOU WANT TO BE IN 5 YEARS - don't become the very person who is stuck in old thinking. Like attracts like.
And finally, if you are serious about results, Ricardo Semlar author of ‘Maverick' did all of the above and improved productivity from $10,200 to $96,000 per employee, and now only shows up for work 2/3 times a year! He IS the owner - it isn't the best look for a manager to only show up 3 times a year.