It’s was the beginning of Q2 and our goals were not meeting our projections for the year. As a team, we poured over the numbers. We asked, “Are we generating enough leads, are we making enough calls, are we going on enough appointments?” Oddly enough, we had enough leads and went on enough appointments. The numbers just didn’t work anymore. It wasn’t from a lack of effort. We noticed some slipping through the first part of the year. The year was 2008 and many parts of the country were feeling the effects of a credit crisis brought on by scandals and ridiculously leveraged loans. When we went on appointments we found out that our leads simply weren’t qualified and neither of us knew which questions to ask to figure it out. That’s when Gary Keller, the owner of Keller Wiliams Realty, introduced all of his agents to the word, “shift.”
I’m at home with my family during this time it feels like this is the first time our entire planet is facing the same shift at the same time. I believe this time is like that time back in 2008 in a number of ways. We will all be somewhat different because of this virus and I suspect we’re in for a decade of new things that will require us to ready for change. What doesn’t change is how a leader should operate in the face of uncertainty.
Agility Is Your Super Power
The “Agile method” is the word used in the project management and development world to describe how teams are working with two key ingredients: constant collaboration and constant improvements. In other words, constant change. As you look at your business you shouldn’t consider this time to be a time to get a new certification, but rather a time to become more agile (as in the ability to change direction quickly). This doesn’t mean being wishy-washy. These are calculated moves. Instead of having one yearly planning session, it’s probably time for quarterly or monthly sessions. It’s time for you to actually plan out your “plan b” (and c, d, and e). As you shift to new ways of doing business be ready for the next shift. Unlike other market shifts, I suspect that this one will have a few more twists and turns than we were expecting.
Re-evaluate Goals, Pivot
In order for you to be effective, you have to have a clearly defined vision. It’s this clarity that gives you the foundation and leverage to pivot. In all your agility, the key to avoiding rabbit trailing or wasting your energy is to have clear goals. If your mission and vision are crystal clear it makes pivoting much easier. We’re seeing small pivots now by large manufacturers as they shift to make medical supplies. It might seem odd to see car manufacturers making masks, but it’s a smart pivot. Pivoting isn’t changing your business model, it’s going to where the opportunity is with the resources you have.
Trim The Fat
Every time a shift happens in a market place, smart businesses cut expenses. You see this when corporations lay people off. What you don’t see is when organizations cut unaccountable marketing efforts and/or luxury perks and bonuses.
Practically, a shift is a time to stop doing things that are not helping your business. Yes, in some instances this might be eliminating positions within your company. In other cases, it might mean that you have stop some marketing or paying for some tool and go back to basics before you were paying for it. The key to trimming expenses is accountability. Right now is not the time to wait and see, you should cut it move forward.
In sales, we’d call this “lead generating.” Profit is created when an organization solves a problem that someone is willing to pay for. In a shift, people’s needs and want shift to new things. Your job as a leader is to direct the organization to where those needs are.
During a shift, everything needs to be held accountable. Employees, expenses and time. Time invested in the right activities will change whether you survive and thrive in the next season or whether you end up in a new line of work. Examine your daily habits, your tasks. Read The Power of Habit and start some more productive habits.
As a Christian I have hope. God is my provider. This doesn’t change the need to be a good steward over the people I lead or the opportunities He’s given me. Take some extra time this week to get before God and see where He wants you to go. If you haven’t heard from God in a long time, then it’s definitely time to reconnect.
During a shift people are hurting, this is even more true during a crisis. You might not have financial resources to give as you did in the past, but you can give of your time and talent. A kingdom driven leader is one that can still see the destination above the waves. During this time you might feel stunted. Remember what Andy Stanley said about giving, “do for the 1 what you wish you could do for the many.” We’re all in this wilderness together and I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t welcome a phone call to discuss the future in encouraging terms.
Whether you oversee 4,000 employees, 400 or just yourself, the advice is the same. You need to reevaluate the year, be ready to change, cut expenses and lead generate. Doing all this will help you weather the storm.