MASTERING MORALE: PERFORMANCE PARALYSIS AND SURVIVING THE SLUMP

Sometimes no matter what you do the team just seems like it cannot execute.

Anyone who has played or watched team sports has seen or experienced this firsthand.

As entrepreneurs, or entrepreneurial employees, we try to stack the deck in our favor by recruiting the most talented group of individuals we can find and but at the end of the day there are times when even the Kobe Bryant’s’ and Peyton Manning’s of the world, who have been given access to extreme resources, simply cannot  sink enough baskets or complete enough passes to make victory happen.

It happens to the best of us; a bad sales quarter followed by a few others; missed production targets; a surprise regulatory hurdle; or the unexpected leave of absence one of your star player’s has to take from out of left field.

Sometimes these performance problems are quick to pass or can be overcome by adjusting either the team roster or the company playbook.

To some extent every business is driven by its labor model. The complexities of employee scheduling, payroll management, and productivity all pale in comparison to the single most important task a manager or business owner must achieve; the maintenance and growth of employee morale.

Although scheduling, productivity, and on time payroll  at first glance may appear business-centric, the reality is that these functions are as complimentary as cookies and milk to the proper maintenance of employee morale and business growth.

Scheduling is essential to ensuring your team feels well-managed, i.e., competently managed. We have all had to adjust to last minute scheduling changes, but the need to accommodate this regularly is a sign of poor organizational management. Organizational issues can frustrate the team in a variety of ways, all of which ultimately reduces team performance.

Issues with payroll are anathema to team morale; there is nothing that worries the team more than not getting paid on time or not feeling adequately compensated for the results achieved.

The above issues will actually stop the team from executing; I call it “Performance Paralysis.”

I have a great deal of personal experience here; I have made the mistake of starting, and deciding to continue what in hindsight, were underfunded concerns. Lack of sufficient operating capital led to operational issues. The operational issues led to intermittent, and ultimately insurmountable, employee crises.

Even in extremely well-funded concerns, misapplication of resources is a common problem that often creates the very same issues as those found in companies that have insufficient capital.

The odds were against me and my ship did sink.

I learned a lot during my swim to shore.

Two of those lessons I would like to share:

  1. Whether your business model is customer focused or operations centric, employee morale is the most critical aspect of sustainable and effective execution;
  2. As counter-intuitive as it may initially seem a structured model for organizational discipline, from the basics of the dress code to the communication of organizational goals and execution approach, is the ONLY way to achieve high morale.

At the end of the day managing and navigating a structured environment is easier than trying to perform in chaos. How to build a structure that can also react with sufficient agility to thrive in markets that experience rapid change is a topic for another time.

Until then, go forth and SUCCEED!

Make it a better place,

Todd

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