We start the year in uncertain and dangerous times. We have been here before and it has been even worse in the recent past, but planning and management in this environment has us wondering about the impact on our businesses. What are the right management strategies and action plans to get through this year and build a more resilient and successful business?
Here are the lessons we have learned in the past:
1. Do not react to the headlines. They are primarily trying to get your attention and a train wreck, death and disaster are always more interesting than a business success story. You will not likely get balanced or insightful input to your planning or decision making. You will have to dig deeper. Make sure your market feedback and competitive analysis are current and accurate.
2. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Keep employees and customers informed. They are also worried and confused and need to be reassured that they can count on you. You may not have good news for them, but it will be appreciated that they are hearing directly from you and are not left guessing what's next.
3. Keep on Selling. Now is not the time to cut back on marketing and sales. Your efforts now will be even more conspicuous and effective if your competitors are reducing their marketing and sales efforts. Be selective and very focused. Work on building stronger customer relationships by being relevant and responsive to the current circumstances. Calmness, confidence and competence are much more appealing to those potential buyers who are still spending and want reliable, long term suppliers.
4. Do quickly what obviously needs to be done. If it’s clear to you it's also clear to the people affected. They are waiting for you to act and will be more confident and proactive themselves if they see you taking action. Face the facts, don't fight the facts. 5. Adapt. Remember Darwin's "survival of the fittest": those who adapt to their environment are most likely to survive; not the strongest or the biggest. This is not the time to be stubbornly persistent about your plans. Look around and be creative. Your destination may still be the same, but the route, the vehicle and the passengers may need to be changed.
6. Be confident, but cautious. Recognize the difference between taking a calculated risk and taking a wild swing hoping for the best. Make a decision if the potential outcomes and the probabilities are reasonably clear, but hold fire if they are not.
7. Show conspicuous leadership. This is not the time to hide in your office. Strong leaders understand the need to be the most conspicuous communicator on current issues. No one can do it better than the one who is ultimately responsible for taking action. We may not all be adept at it, but we can all speak with more sincerity than any spokesperson or intermediary on our concerns, our strategies and our plans.
Good management will be tested again this year, but good decisions will mean a better business for the future. Keep at it and better times will follow soon. Stay hopeful and optimistic.
Happy New Year,
© January 2015