Leading Through Crisis

Managing a crisis such as the kiwifruit PSA disease provides significant leadership challenges and I believe that to lead well through such a time a leader needs to do two things simultaneously;

 1. Sort out the Short Term                                                                                                      
Take costs out of the business, take steps to preserve cash, manage debt, increase returns, efficiency and protect your investment.

 2. Start talking about the future                                                                                        Take time to get a picture of what the business may need to look like in the future. Spend time asking questions of your staff, your shareholders and the industry. Ask questions that challenge the status quo and test the boundaries. Seek new ideas and innovations.

Doing both these things simultaneously is important as it is very hard, for you or your staff, to stay positive and productive without a vision. So in addition to bringing short-term direction to the business’s profitability and cash-flow the leader also needs to lift people’s eyes so they can see the possibilities.

What are your thoughts? If you are in the industry how are you going looking towards the future? Outside the industry…any other tips to leading through crisis? Please comment below.

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It’s Not Fair!

  “John, I’m afraid you have to leave.”                                                                       “What! Why me?”                                                                                                                           “Well…you were never very good.”                                                                                         “I’ve been here 20 years. Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

Why not indeed? The employee, years earlier, might have been able to find a job with
a future. Now, at age 45 or 50, he must enter a job market more competitive than ever. That’s not fair.

I believe the reason we do not confront poor performance early is we don’t have a solution for the problem. Yes most of us don’t like conflict, or don’t know how to raise the issue, but I reckon the real reason we don’t talk about poor performance is that we don’t have a solution for it.

We don’t want to confront the issue until we have a solution.

However in my experience it is best not to have a solution before you confront it, “the solution” actually comes out of being honest and open with the employee about the problem.

When you confront the issue you will likely find:

1. They were not aware of what was expected and will make change

2. They come to see they don’t fit the job or the culture and both parties can then talk about a better fit, either inside or outside the company

3. They will remain completely oblivious of the problem or unable to change and will need to be moved on.

Being open and honest and putting the issue on the table is key. From my experience it is not about having a plan all worked out for how you are going to deal with the performance, it’s simply about starting a conversation and taking the appropriate action as it becomes clear.

Is this something you can relate to? What other reasons are there for us not confronting poor performance? Comment below.

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Mission Critical

It just seems so human of us to get distracted by the urgent and forget to do what matters most.

Are there things you are working on today that are taking you away from mission critical tasks? If so, create a short-list of the mission critical things you know you need to be dealing with. Then create a list of everything else you are doing and either delegate, delete or delay those tasks.

Where does family, faith and fitness fit into your mission critical list?

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Stealing time for Exercise

Taking time is a thief’s trade: making time is a strategists. An effective manager must be both a strategist and a thief, stealing time from less compelling and more leisurely pursuits to get the job done.” Lewis Kelly.

The kiwifruit industry is in crisis. It needs people who are positive, energetic, others orientated. It is hard to be such a person, or should I say, such a leader, when you are tired, unfit and unfocused.

It is common knowledge that a fit person has more energy. Fit people are more likely to fend off depression, they are more focused and can achieve more.

The increased complexities of doing business post PSA will push hard on our time. To lead well we must push back and steal time for exercise.

 

Go on…steal some time. Make it happen. Stick a reoccurring fitness appointment in your iphone or android today!

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Now That’s Fair!

What’s fairer, to treat everyone the same, or to treat each individual as they should be treated?

I once worked for a company that insisted on paying everyone in the same role the same amount. Oh sure they had a scale for measuring longevity of service and skill, but they placed fairness over rewarding performance.

I remember reading once about the 20/70/10 rule. I think Jack Welch developed it. His basic principle being that the team with the best players wins.

Here is how the 20/70/10 rule goes…

20% of your staff will be the top performers. They will be the staff delivering most value to your business. Identify them, acknowledge them, reward them and do what you must to keep them engaged.

Then there is the middle 70%. These are the solid workers. They may not shine, but work hard and well and could shine with enough care and attention. Treat them as the heart and soul of the organization. Develop them, train them, coach them.

Then there is the bottom 10%. If not managed well the bottom 10% can take most of your time and effort. Effort that should be invested into the above two categories. Basically, they are the ones you need to move out so better talent can be brought in.

Remember however that the key to managing poor performance is to confront it. So dealing with the bottom 10% is not about yanking them out. It is about starting a conversation and taking the appropriate action as it becomes clear.

I really like how fair this system is. It recognizes great performance, addresses poor performance and helps the employer to tailor ‘rewards’ to what individuals value.

Now that’s fair!

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