You’re going through the most challenging situation you’ve faced in your career. Morale is low. Revenue is missing projections. Your team, your organization is depending on you. What do you do?

It’s painful. Sometimes it’s not fair – it’s not your fault. The team has not been resourced properly. Certain team members aren’t pulling their weight. You have to do something!

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t make these 3 mistakes:

1. Share the pain

I’ve seen this disastrous mistake made over and over in business, in non-profits, in ministry, in higher education. Sharing the pain always leads to more pain.

Across the board pay cuts don’t work – because, along with cutting the pay of your low performers, you’re cutting the pay of your top performers. And what affect do you think that’s going to have on performance and your bottom line?

No long-term good will result from sharing the pain. So call it what it is – it’s either laziness or fear. Someone was either too lazy to figure out the real problem or they know what the problem is and they’re afraid to deal with it. So they cut everywhere. Everything. Everybody. And it won’t work.

If you have to cut, cut strategically. Cut what’s not working. Cut low performing products and services. Cut low performing personnel. But don’t ever give in to the temptation to share the pain!

Remember, you get what you reward. And rewarding top performers by sharing the pain of lazy, lethargic leadership won’t turn out well.

2. Anecdotal decision-making

You’ve been doing your job a long time – longer than most. You know what it takes to grow. And you know your market. So you make the recommendation to the team. In doing so, you know there’s no actual data – at least none other than your gut and your experience.

To be fair – we’ve all done it. Many times.

My dear friend – anecdotal evidence is not good enough. Not anymore. What got you here will not get you there. The world and your audience have become far too complex to shoot from the hip.

Furthermore, your people are trading substantial portions of their lives to serve your organization. Are they trading it for something that’s worthwhile? If your work is worthwhile, then make the well-founded decisions that your work and your team deserves.

Anecdotal decision-making will take you in circles. Weeks from now you’ll be right back at the table with the same people dealing with this same issue. And they’re not going to like it. So handle it fully today.

Develop a culture of making sound decisions based on market research and actionable data. If you don’t have the data, slow down long enough to collect it. Create systems and processes that support a data-guided culture. And keep it simple – great systems are simple. Just don’t give in to lazy or fearful decision-making.

3. Get in a hurry

This is a tough one if you’re task-oriented and growth-oriented – like me. Never forget, you have your entire life to do your life’s work. Your vision – your huge, daunting, compelling vision for your work, your team, your organization, your industry – is just not going to happen overnight. So accept that fact and quit reacting!

If you’re not committed to a lifetime of service with your current organization or team, then reevaluate where you are. If you have to, leave. If your team isn’t what it needs to be, make changes. Just don’t do it in a hurry.

John Wesley once said,

I am always in haste but never in a hurry; because I never attempt that which I cannot accomplish in calmness of spirit.

Be purposeful and passionate – but slow down. Enjoy the journey. Love your team!

If you want to reach the mountain peaks in your life and work, lead your team to consider these 4 disciplines:

  1. Understand how their work fits into their overall life. Leading them to create a personal life plan is a great way to get them started. Check out my post, Your Life Matters, for a link to a free eBook and tool for creating a life plan.
  2. Develop a vision for their work. For their career, for their position, for the team, for the organization. Let them decide. I’ve written an eBook, Creating Your Business Vision, which explains each of these types of vision. You can read more about it here – download it free to work through it with your team.
  3. Create specific plans for accomplishing the vision. Review and evaluate them regularly – at least quarterly. To get the results you desire, you must get very specific.
  4. Effectively manage priorities and decisions. It’s tempting to spend all your time managing priorities and decisions – scheduling meetings, responding to needs andemail, improving efficiency and effectiveness. Yet if you don’t understand how your work fits into your life, if you don’t have a business vision, if you haven’t written out specific business plans, you’ll have to deal with the same problems over and over again.
Article by Michael Nichols


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