“These are the times that try men's souls.”
Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
While times may be different, I think his reference is as fitting to the current economic recession that promises to be a long and cut deep, as it was to America’s fight for independence over 230 years ago. While most companies reaction to their eroding markets by retrenching operations, curtailing growth and wringing their hands in despair – tough times also present unique opportunities for companies brave enough to go against the flow and follow their own path.
In this and future issues, I would like to share some of the lessons I have learned in 40+ years in business – both from success I shared with co-workers and from the valuable experience gained through failure.
The first lesson I call:
THE ENEMIES ARE OUTSIDE THE GATE
If they are not, you have got big problems. As an employer, it is imperative that you attract loyal hard-working employees, and provide proper guidance, training and communication to assure that everyone fully understands that it is the competition that is the enemy. Internal barriers to higher productivity and morale need to be torn down, not reinforced. If you don't have a work force you can believe in and can trust to go to the wall for you and then some, you better look carefully at your approach, because it is working to your detriment.
In my career, I have worked in many different situations: from small highly educated professional organizations to those involving large union workforces, and in almost everything in between. In every situation, I have found that a positive communicative approach brings out the best in the work force. Here is my short course on identifying the real enemies and coordinating a winning battle plan.
While these approaches are recommended in good and bad times, they are especially useful when times are bad, as they are now.
If you think your workers are lazy and lack initiative, I can guarantee you that they will not disappoint you. If you believe that every employee is a valuable team member, you would be surprised what contributions they can make.
Next issue will be “Let’s Make a Deal”.