As leaders, it’s our responsibility to orchestrate our team’s activities to achieve desired outcomes. Many of us macro-manage to unlock our teams’ capabilities. But to be an effective macro-manager, it is essential that we know when to course correct our team’s direction, and when it is appropriate to step out of the way and let them do their thing.
One key strategy to help us know when to intervene is to observe the operating environment. To illustrate this strategy, let’s simplify our world into two types of operating environments: low morale and high morale.
Low Morale Workplace Tips
When the chips are down, despair and doubt can creep in like a shadow throughout your company. When your technology systems have an outage or a sales deal doesn’t close, people lament.
At times like this your team is likely making silly mistakes due to a lack of attention to detail. They are also at risk of missing growth opportunities because their energy level simply doesn’t motivate them to identify and pursue opportunities.
When this happens you’re undoubtedly feeling the same way. But instead of caving into those feelings, recognize this as a signal to act differently and set a new precedent.
Give compliments, cheer team members on, keep a smile on your face, and speak about when you’ll get that deal and when you’ll have the systems back up and running at peak performance. You could even hand out rewards or awards for small accomplishments.
By acting contrary to how those in your environment would pressure you to act, you can quickly lift your team out of this dangerous scenario and get them back on track.
High Morale Workplace Tips
When everything is going correctly, triumph and exhilaration can gleam throughout your office. When profits are high, people celebrate and euphoria overwhelms the team mentality.
This is also a time where strong leaders must accept the reality that this is not a sustainable operating environment. In this state of high spirits, unsavory behaviors have the potential to settle in, like complacency, lack of attention to detail and disregard for proper due diligence. People are more prone to “shoot from the hip” rather than make sound business decisions.
In this environment, you need to keep people grounded and focused. Remind the team that it’s a slippery slope and that they should use this time not to celebrate, but rather to plan and prepare.
Now is the time to secure critical parts of your business, plan for bold strategic decisions and parlay this success into more success. By requiring a higher level of execution before handing out awards or rewards, you will demand greatness instead of “goodness.”
Instead of giving into complacency, choose to act in an opposite manner by using your recent success as a catalyst for greater future success.
Navigating the Ebb and Flow of Business
As a founder, your sanity is paramount. An old saying reminds us to be “never too high, never too low,” and I use this as a way of keeping emotions in check. Remain grounded, focused, stable and prepared to take on whatever highs and lows come your way.
The key to effectively doing this is to focus on being aware of your emotions: practice being objective about what you are feeling. With practice, you will be able to detect when you are overly excited or underwhelmingly distraught.
If you detect that you are overly excited along with your team, then take a deep breath, evaluate your risks and opportunities and focus. If you share in your team’s downtrodden spirits, force a smile on your face, pat yourself or someone else on the back, and find the little wins.
This philosophy will prevent you from falling victim to the “pendulum effect,” which occurs when you are extremely high for a period of time, then a shift of events plummets you into an extremely low place, and so on. If you lead this way, not only will your stress level be sky high, but your team will be confused by your inconsistent behavior.
Find time to celebrate, and to grieve, in balance. If you act contrary to how your environment is encouraging you to act, you’ll become the stabilizing force that keeps your team positioned for sustainable success.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Adam Roozen is a former developer, marketer, and program manager and continues to be a successful business builder and leader. With roots in small-town southern Minnesota, he gained his corporate chops at the Wal-Mart Home Office leading marketing and operations for Samsclub.com, and is currently CEO at a leading eCommerce agency, Echidna, Inc. Connect with @adamroozen on Twitter.
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