How to Transcend Troubling Times
By Grant Ian Gamble | August 18, 2020
Grant Ian Gamble is a business growth consultant, executive coach, author and keynote speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth.
According to Business Insider, unemployment filings hit 55 million over the past 20 weeks.
Layoffs, furloughs, freezes on hiring and downsizing are all reaching epidemic proportions. Usually, downsizing and consolidations are associated with declining financial performance for the companies going through these transitions, but not necessarily.
According to Kim Cameron, a researcher at the University of Michigan, companies that were downsizing AND characterized by virtuous practices – for example, forgiveness, compassion, integrity, trust, optimism, kindness – tended to avoid the declining performance usually associated with major consolidation.
In a study across 16 industries, all of which had cut staff, Cameron’s research demonstrated that organizations scoring higher in virtuousness were significantly more profitable, and also achieved significantly higher performance in returns to shareholders, productivity, and customer satisfaction*.
In these unprecedented times, fear pervades every segment of the business community. Every executive and business owner I work with has very real fears for their companies and their people.
When fear surrounds us as it does today, it is easy to let it distort our priorities and influence our better judgement.
As we work through strategies to pivot, re-engineer or sometimes consolidate, it remains critical to keep the moral fiber of the company intact and act with integrity and transparency.
Our Tough Time
On the heels of the Global Economic Crisis in 2008, my wife and I purchased a company that turned out to be financially misrepresented (a nice way to say that the books were cooked. Actually, they were burned to a crisp!). With massive losses suddenly appearing on the balance sheet, we had to pivot and consolidate immediately. This involved closing one location, renegotiating with landlords, consolidating staffing, and shifting our focus from thriving to surviving.
Over the course of 18 months, we turned that company around and we credit that turnaround to maintaining our integrity, transparency, and communicating with all the stakeholders constantly. We had completely open book conversations with our landlords and vendors, we shared everything with our team, we offered up trust, compassion and optimism in liberal doses.
And in that whole turbulent time, no team member missed a paycheck, no vendor was gipped, and the landlords were ultimately made whole.
We look back on that time with incredulity and realize that maintaining those values which we went into the business with was actually our greatest achievement.
So, if you’re facing tough decisions or seemingly insurmountable challenges from this current global crisis, I encourage you to hold true to those values that have made you who you are today. Step back from the fray and look on with compassion, empathy and fortitude. By elevating your communications and maintaining your optimism, you can help guide your organization out of these turbulent times.
* Virtuousness and Performance: A Productive Partnership, Prof. Kim Cameron – Ross School of Business
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