Issue: 08-11 Date: January, 2009
Quote of the month:
Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.
Motivating In Turbulent Times
In today's uncertain economy, the most important job of a manager is to lead, inspire and motivate his or her team. It's no small task to create energy in a chaotic environment. At the same time, though, the greatest leaders in history were created in times of adversity.
The best coaches know how to pull their teams together when they're down a touchdown at the two-minute warning. Battles are won by officers at the front of their units leading the charge. I don't want to take anything away from those who were successful during the most recent boom, but compared to today, that was a walk in the park.
In the next few years, great managers will be those who instill confidence in their associates and partner with them to grow their businesses.
• Get your head in the game. Don't expect those around you to be battle-ready if they think you've given up. Find some way to start your day positively. Exercise, prayer or inspirational reading can help invigorate your attitude. Eat a healthy breakfast so that you're fueled for the day ahead.
Don't spend your time watching the ticker. Make a to-do list and check off things you've completed so that you feel like you've accomplished something each day.
Make your health a priority. Don't fall victim to stress, depression and burn-out.
• Set reasonable goals. Develop your game plan. You may be able grow your business by taking market share lost by Circuit City or other competitors who've gone out of business. You may be able to move some of the business you've lost in new home construction to retrofitting older homes. Kitchen remodeling and replacement products will help spiff up homes that owners would have sold in better times. New accessories may help old furnishings look fresh.
Establish a sales goal that might be a stretch but that for the most part is attainable. Budget your expenses based on your best projections. You may have to slash expenses to remain profitable.
• Communicate your plan. Ask your team members to help finalize your sales and expense plan. They may find additional opportunities that you've overlooked. The more input they have, the more easily they'll buy into it.
Share financial results and tell your associates how you're doing. Don't spread doom and gloom, but tell it like it is. Remind them that the profits you made in previous years give you a cushion for these leaner ones. Listen to their concerns and ask for their ideas.
• Show staff members you really care. The associates you depend on for your success hear the news. The value of their investments and 401(k) plans has dropped. They're concerned about their jobs, their homes and their families.
• Know each team member's hot button. Find out how to best reward each associate. Some team members may be motivated by money, while others may be motivated by extra time off to coach a little league team. Those with young children may appreciate movie tickets and a little money to pay the sitter. Coffee drinkers would like a Starbucks card while music lovers might prefer an iTunes gift card. Smaller personalized rewards go further than one-size-fits no one prizes.
• Reward small victories. Keep things fun by handing out a prize for the first sale of the day or for the sale with the most items on the ticket. Give a prize to the associate who sells the product that's been in inventory the longest or who sells that one lonely red recliner.
• Make employees feel important. Acknowledge each team member you see in the showroom. Ask about their families or how their favorite team will do this weekend. Give them your time and your attention.
Recognize extra effort by sending a hand written thank you note home. Remember birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. Post testimonials associates receive from customers where everyone can see them.
• Create competition. Have contests to help move aging inventory, sell more installations, add more audio gear or include more extended warranties. Divide your associates into teams and have steak and beans contests where the winners are served great meals by the losing team. Include your support and clerical staff members on the team.
• Be a leader. Get out of your office and into the trenches. Be part of the action. Talk to your customers and coach your team members. As General George S. Patton said, "No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair."
The current business climate will separate the best from the rest, the winners from the whiners. Fierce determination will help, but even the toughest general, the best coach, the greatest quarterback can't win alone. Those with the most optimistic, opportunistic teams will be those most able to calm the storm get to the finish line and win.