Turnaround is a very high stress game. I don’t mean for me – it’s my job to stay calm, cool and level-headed and avoid letting the CEO do anything rash while he’s worried about losing his business and life.
But the CEO isn’t the only person at a company stressed out by a turnaround and with the ability to do something stupid. Every employee has the potential to set off and do something idiotic, embarrassing and detrimental to a company’s successful emergence from a crisis.
That’s why, as the CEO, president or leader, you have got to maintain your composure. Do not blow off steam publicly, do not be seen to publicly rant and rave and do not be an idiot in the light of day. Employees will follow your example. If you need to blow off steam go to the gym, get a punching bag, go to the driving range or the shooting range or join an underground fight club. Just keep it under wraps.
In times of no crisis, if employees see you taking cash from the register or inventory from the warehouse, they’ll think it’s okay to do the same. You’re the leader.
In times of crisis, when they see you lose your head and freak out, they will follow suit. At the very least, they’ll become disillusioned and less productive, which is the last thing that a company needs in crisis. While going through a crisis, a company needs to operate at the highest level, churning out the best widget at the fastest rate (pending the crisis isn’t in production) and doing its best to stay ahead.
And you don’t have to be a CEO to be a leader. If you’re a manager or just a regular employee, you can set an example as well. Though it’s hard to make your calm contagious the same way your panic might be, just maintaining your stability and work ethic will show others that this is the right course of action.
I’ve talked about crazy Charlie before, who tried to stab his mother in one of the more hostile corporate takeovers I’ve been involved with, and as a result of his crazy actions, the deal to sell the company fell through.
Crazy people doing crazy things – especially in crisis – is ruinous. Keep your head, lead by example and deal with problems immediately. You don’t need mutiny on a sinking ship if you’re hoping to stay afloat.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen an employee do?