During these lazy days of summer, it’s easy to feel lethargic or indifferent. Our attention turns to kids, vacations and trying to stay cool. Some seasonal variation in tempo is normal and welcome. Fall is busy with back to school and retailers increasing their inventory. The holidays are a rush, and then Old Man Winter sets in. Finally spring renews our senses with blossoms galore. Honoring these fluctuations means understanding the normal rhythms of life, even as they pertain to our business cycles. This is when indifference is benign; we understand there is an ebb and flow. All good things happen in their own sweet time.
But when indifference is insidious, we need to find the cause and effect a cure. So how do we know the difference? Let’s look at the possible culprits.
What? Indifference is defined as “uncaring”, lack of concern, neutrality, slowly invoking harmful results. Instead, we want our life’s work to be inspiring, passionate and motivating. As leaders, we hold the keys to keeping the dream alive and moving forward, but, as business owners, if we aren’t proactive, who will be? We set the pace, take the risks and champion the causes.
Who? Is it an indifferent key employee, the whole team or you who seems to have lost the enthusiasm, passion or commitment?
Why? Do we become indifferent to our true intention, because as entrepreneurs we seek an adrenalin rush? Without that juice, we falter. Key employees maybe feel overworked, underappreciated, unheard and/or inadequately compensated. If we continually change direction, the team maybe off-mission and rudderless.
How? Indifference can manifest itself as unattained goals, infighting among employees, and a lack of attention on your part. Perhaps momentum was lost due to external forces. For whatever reason, your team is off course and no longer in alignment with your company mission.
Intention: Define what you set out to attain and create a vision statement you can live by everyday. This is a great annual exercise for any team….hire a facilitator to help create and manage the agenda and expectations. This keeps the meeting on track and frees up all the stakeholders to participate freely. An experienced outsider sees the forest for the trees and having a special event sends the message that this is important. Creating a shared strategy drives participation, profits and joy in being part of the solution. A great facilitator will ensure an outcome that everyone buys into.
Communicate: Once the vision and strategic plan are written, review it with everyone in the organization, top to bottom.
Metrics: Define success at every level and every stage. Outline action items, intermediary points, and timelines by department. Clearly define expectations. Put teams together who will self manage their progress. Provide support in the form of personality assessment tools so they can understand themselves and their peers better and work more productively.
Review: Review numbers monthly! At least quarterly, pull the team together and review the strategy, is it working, what progress have we made, how is it impacting our operations, is there anything we didn’t anticipate? Peer review is extremely effective; match VP’s of different disciplines, take out the competitive element and watch them grow from each other’s perspective as they brainstorm and keep each other on track.
Coaching: Hire a coach for yourself and/or your team leaders. Coaches are trained to listen differently and to get you to go deeper for the answers. You’ll make time for your coaching sessions which means you’ll make time for yourself to work “on” your business as well as “in” your business.
Rewards: With the right metrics in place, it’ll be easy to reward teams and individuals for reaching clearly stated goals consistently and on time. More often is better. Have rewards be monthly, quarterly and annually. Have some for team accomplishments and some for individual performance. If you only review and perform once a year, you miss many opportunities to tweak wayward efforts or ward off benign indifference.