When Times Get Tough

May 26, 2022

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything always went the way you wanted: smooth, easy, peaceful.  What if there were never any real problems, salespeople always hit their goals, employees always lived up to expectations, and no one ever disagreed with your way of thinking.  Ahhh, that would be nice!

But, unfortunately, life doesn’t work quite that way.  It seems like often, things don’t go as planned; sales dip, people make mistakes and disappoint, and believe it or not, sometimes my point of view is not always the best one.

So how do you lead when times are tough?  This past week has reminded me of some essential principles to stick to when leading through tough times.

  1. Don’t get caught up in the frenzy.  A leader has to keep a long-term view of every situation.  It’s easy to get distracted, focus on the here and now, and forget that today’s issues are a small part of an ongoing process.
  2. Don’t overreact.  Sometimes it feels easier to jump in and do everything yourself to fix the immediate problem and then deal with the consequences later.  However, doing someone’s job for them doesn’t develop them as professionals, and it won’t help the overarching goal of creating a solid team.
  3. Take appropriate action.  Not overreacting doesn’t mean not acting.  When times are hard, everyone needs to roll up their sleeves and give a completely focused effort.  Leaders connect with their people, help eliminate obstacles, offer guidance and encouragement, and, if needed, a firm push forwards.  Maybe eliminating obstacles is making a phone call to find out why a particular deal isn’t going through or riding along on a sales call to determine if a bad habit is beginning to form.  I have found that taking someone to lunch who is struggling and just talking about life can positively impact a sales slump.
  4. Communicate. Clarify the goals, preach teamwork, and believe in them.  When a group of talented people comes together with a clearly-defined, immediate-need goal and their leader conveys a strong belief in their ability, almost anything can happen.

When it’s all said and done, and everything gets back to normal (and it will), don’t forget to celebrate with the team.  Show appreciation; say, “thank you for the extra effort.”  It will bring you closer as a team and hopefully help avoid the next crisis before it happens.

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