The Struggle Is Real: Leading Your Team During Poor Business Conditions

Leading a team when your organization is on the top of the mountain can be a self-rejuvenating act. Powered by amazing sales reports, positive outlooks, a thriving corporate culture, and just plain and simple good times, it may seem easy to lead a team to the summit. But what happens when your organization or the business climate around you is in the valley? Getting to the highest peaks when in the lowest places can not only be a daunting task, it may seem like an impossible quest.

We get it. The struggle is real. If this past year has taught business leaders anything, it is that you must constantly reevaluate and reroute the path to your Everest. For many businesses, it’s time to look differently at the annual goals set this year and change the approach in order to effectively lead your team during these poor business conditions.

Above All Else, Embrace Encouragement

One of the slogans adopted in 2020 to encompass the emotions we all felt this year was “we’re all in this together.” Whether you’re a front-line worker, small-business owner, or contract worker, everyone was affected by the global pandemic. Everyone has some sort of connection to the struggles the world is experiencing. As leaders, this gives you a unique perspective on how your employees, clients, and communities feel this year. Heartfelt encouragement goes a long way toward easing the pain of this unprecedented year and building up the courage to press onward.

If your employees are struggling with not reaching their quotas or maintaining year-over-year productivity, encourage them to look at their accomplishments in a different light. Point out the wonderful ways they’ve served the community or how they worked hard to serve clients during a tough season. True character isn’t shown when a climber reaches the summit; it’s reveled when the mountaineer is halfway through trying to reach down and muster the courage to press onward. Help your team reveal their character by encouraging them to see the courage within themselves.

Change Your Perspective

Societies are built on culture and values, and one thing that creates the North American business culture is hard work, grit, and competition. Regardless of the industry, businesses look toward others, as well as themselves, to see how they stack. However, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic made it nearly impossible for businesses to compare year-over-year sales numbers—or even quarter-to-quarter numbers. Simply put, the data is like comparing apples and oranges. It’s not necessarily helpful and, for many, can be discouraging.

If you are like the millions of business leaders struggling with this, it’s time to change your perspective. While it’s important to see the overall health of your business and the economic climate, zoom in to a more granular view of your business operations. Make weekly goals to simply do better than the prior week. Constantly reexamine your goals and develop ways to maintain a steady growth pattern. Regardless if we’re in a bull or bear economy, your goals should reflect where you are and the little things you’re doing to get to the next level. Remember, sometimes climbers are looking to just reach the base camp, not necessarily the summit on day one. If you focus on the next camp, sooner or later you will reach the top again.

Focus on Future Sales

During poor business conditions, some businesses tend to scale back their sales force, mark the year as a loss, and say “well, better luck next year.” This approach is not only costly for your business, but it hurts the culture your organization has cultivated over the years. Understanding that consumers or clients may not be spending as much these days, change your focus to future deals, sales, acquisitions, etc. Just because you know that a former client isn’t using your product right now, doesn’t mean that they won’t in the future. This is the perfect time to continue to build relationships through social media engagement, content marketing strategies, and periodically calling just to check up on them.

When the weather turns, sometimes you have to turn around as well, head back down the mountain, and plan for a different day to summit. But, your eyes never leave your main goal. The schedule just shifts. By continuing to cultivate relationships with your clients, you’ll be better prepared for when the clouds disperse and blue skies take over. Don’t wait for kinder weather to start selling, just sell for the future.

How do you lead your team during poor business conditions? What have you done to maintain morale in your office? Let us know in the comments section below!

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