Leading Through a Bad Cycle

Super KidIf you read the popular management and leadership books, you get the feeling that leaders always have good years.  They always make bonus, get lavish raises and are universally loved.  If that was true, many of them would still be running companies and not writing books.

So what do you do when your team has a bad year?  No bonuses were made, raises will be minimal if at all, and your team may need to be broken up due to performance.  Morale is at an all-time low and now you need to rally the troops to start building momentum for next year.

Some techniques that have been helpful over the years are for you to be H.A.P.P.I.E.R.:

  1. Honest- your team knows they are not performing well as a unit.  They need to be told what is going on in straight talk.  If changes are going to happen, let them know. Nothing derails your ability to lead than lack of trust.
  2. Adaptive- many times your team hiccups because of them relying on the old ways.  Social marketing did not exist ten years ago.  Now your product is DOA without it.
  3. Proactive- have conversations with your key stakeholders and work through issues before they snowball.  Getting out in front of the problems will help your team perform better.
  4. Professional- now is not the time for you to start acting out.  Do not blame, gossip, complain, or any other negative behavior.  Lead steady and sure.
  5. Innovative- look at new ways to jumpstart your team.  Team bonding over lunch, a group outing, an airing out meeting- use any technique that will spur new ideas.
  6. Energetic- if you are normally over the top energy, keep it going.  If you are normally a stoic leader, add some more personality to your style.  People will follow you if you can convince them it is the right thing to do.  Being upbeat is a natural way to do that.
  7. Reliable- keep your word.  If you tell everyone that you are going to do something, do it.  Building that trust is of the utmost importance during a downtime.

It is never easy to lead through difficult situations.  However, you can get through it by following the advice above and by remembering that people want to be treated just like you do- fairly and openly.  Telling your team what is going on will always work better than hiding behind “I can’t tell you” or “You’ll know soon”.  Don’t get caught in the corporate speak, get out there an lead!

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