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  • Jerry Phillips

When you are in the survival mode, you can’t dream

There is always stress when we are working in our business. Stress creates adrenaline. The body is not meant to run on adrenaline for any great length of time. Over time it can lead to physical and mental health issues. It can have a tremendous impact on the productivity of your team, especially your top performers.

My client has a strong team that was preparing for a challenging year before oil dropped to under $30 a barrel. Then add in the threat to our health and safety. The stress for the leadership was palpable. The stress on the entire team was even greater as they were worried about the ability for their income to continue.

The first few weeks were spent adjusting to the new reality of working from home and working through the impact to their customers. After the adjustment period they realized that they had to find a way to help everyone with peace of mind, and then move from survival to thriving. They needed to have their team become productive again.

While their customers were tightening their budgets, the only way to gain was to increase market share. That comes in the form of new customers, or new solutions for existing customers. Their customers were still in survival mode so neither of those were going to have an immediate impact. The question was how do we ease the stress on our team now? The answer was to start now, to prepare them for the work they would need to do to gain share when business returned to a more normal state. We started with the sales team.

While they were working the telephone to solve immediate customer issues due to breakdowns, that wasn’t keeping them as busy as in the past. This created plenty of free time. We used it to focus on planning and process. We used it to enhance product knowledge. The initial work was to invest in the development of the sales team. They are the fuel for the entire company engine. The consequence was the entire company anxiety was lessened. They saw the investment as a vote of confidence that the business wasn’t dying, and the company was preparing for growth again.

We are not fully productive yet, however, we will be ready for it when the world is open for business again. The investment in the team has been a great stress relief for them. They are being productive and the feeling in the company is one of optimism. The situation is unprecedented, and the reaction was initially to tighten the budget. It still is tight, but with a select investment, the view is now much more confident and less in the adrenaline producing survival mode. We can start to dream and thrive once again.

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