What (Not!) To Do In Troubled Times – Part 1

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Regrettably, I’ve seen my share of companies in troubled times. Some CEOs step up and take effective action, but others are less effective. Here are some unfortunately common behaviors that have led to failure. This group of behaviors falls under the category:

Personal Interaction

Cut off communication – When things start to go wrong, your best friends can be a source of support and morale. But they should not be your only points of contact. Resist the urge to see only friendly faces and hear only from people who agree with you. Don’t close your door and hire a bulldog assistant to keep people away. The more people you hear from, the more you’ll understand changing conditions, and the better equipped you’ll be to deal with them.

Stop making field visits – In stressful times, don’t look at your office as a sanctuary. You are unlikely to learn anything useful there. The people who make and sell your product are the ones who can really tell you what is happening, and often how to make things better. And your attention is reassuring and inspiring to them.

Take long trips away from the office – Yes, bad times are stressful, but you can’t hide from them. Taking more personal trips and long weekends will just put you out of touch, and will send a very wrong message to your management team.

Make it clear that you only want to hear good news – We all like good news, but if you won’t hear the bad news, or require that all bad news have a positive spin, you’re going to lose your grip on the business. And you’ll look foolish to your management team.

Hold more long meetings – Meetings are necessary for communication. More meetings, longer meetings and meetings with more attendees can be detrimental. You may feel comfort in surrounding yourself with subordinates, but the more time you spend talking to them, the less time they can spend identifying and solving problems.

Think about it. Does any of this feel familiar? … Really think about it.

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