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This week’s smile comes from Frank Zappa’s album cover which he himself borrowed from Roger Price’s Droodles.

The message, obviously, is that timing is everything. As the current recession slowly washes away, one of the lagging indicators will be – as usual – the number of insolvencies and personal bankruptcies. Now this blog is not so much about telling you to manage your cash position (you should do that anyway, especially as long-postponed investments compete for your attention just when cash is at its lowest). I merely want to draw your attention to your company’s equivalent of the witch: your stretched staff (no value connotation obviously!) Many of our clients have been running very hard for 12, 18 or even 24 months. Some are coming to the end of their reserves and will fall ill, totally lose interest in their job, or think the grass is greener elsewhere. What should a leader do about this? – Essentially three things:

  • Help staff rebuild resilience
  • Paint a strategic picture of the post-recession business
  • Demonstrate genuine attention to the team’s welfare and development while money is still tight

Let’s talk about Resilience. Of course your team must be fit to lead but it must also incorporatepsychological and social fitness. What is social fitness? – Ask yourself for example: “when was the last time you went you went out for dinner with your partner for fun?” or “when was the last time I had a meaningful conversation with my parents/children?” Taking the time to socialise is as important as going to the gym or getting enough sleep when rebuilding resilience. Of course you have no time, but you are intelligent and resourceful so what can you do? A few ideas:

  • Start using Facebook or equivalent to reconnect with friends – you can send the odd bit of news from your telephone
  • Make a lunch appointment with your partner/godson/old pal at least once every couple of weeks
  • Make one night of the week – preferably when you are unlikely to travel – going out night.
  • Renew your subscription to the theatre/opera/local cinema. Actually subscribe to a listings magazine so you get back in the habit of knowing what is going on

The suggestions above do not really consume much time. The objective – to use a French expression – is to lift your nose away from the bicycle’s handlebars and actually realise what opportunities lie outside your narrow field of vision. Obviously, your role as a leader is to make that happen in your team too: who is at risk and needs a bit of help? Is the team grunting to each other; does it require to loosen up a bit? When was the last time you had an outing together? You can look at this from a return on investment perspective or from a risk management perspective, but this could well be the most profitable pub quiz night ever!   Image: Frank Zappa’s album cover.

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