What (Not!) To Do In Troubled Times – Part 2

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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:

General Confusion

Change plans constantly, and don’t inform all of your mangers of the changes – There is always the fear that plans aren’t working, or aren’t working fast enough. Plans need to be carefully thought through and executed at all levels of the organization if they are going to succeed. A rapid succession of poorly conceived plans is worse than no plan at all.

Make radical decisions, then reverse them without explanation – Wild decisions such as cutting the price of your flagship product by 50% (it’s a fictitious example, but just barely) are not the only way to increase business. Everyone, including you, knows it’s not going to work, and abruptly changing your mind a few weeks later will only make you look more foolish.

Find reasons why managers who don’t always agree with you should be absent from meetings – It’s nice to hear from people who agree with you, but you need to hear every point of view, especially in troubled times.

Constantly reshuffle management responsibilities – Sure, you sometimes wish your managers had stronger or different capabilities. But you hired and promoted them for their expertise, experience and judgment in certain areas of the business, and they are the ones who are going to help you through the rough patches. Juggling responsibilities just causes confusion and resentment, and after a while, you’ll be the only one who knows what is going on… maybe.

Appoint capable managers to lead new initiatives, but don’t let them actually do anything – Is this really the time for bold new initiatives? Or are your senior managers more effectively used to improve the core business? Don’t waste your most valuable resources on projects that you will probably never green-light.

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

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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.