I’m not trying to say things won’t return to our past prosperity but we cannot let it control our actions today. I took a look at my shop recently and realized that I was putting off necessary maintenance on almost everything. My mindset was ‘as soon as we get the extra money I will get that done’ or ‘I will buy that extra piece of equipment.’ Without realizing it, I had put everything on hold.
I was also unconsciously sending a message to my staff that things were much worse that they actually were. This in turn created a trickle down effect that affected the morale of the entire shop. I didn’t realize any of this until I heard some rumors that we were in financial trouble. People had begun to draw their own conclusions because we had tightened up so much.
Yes, we needed to adjust and tighten things up, but we were far from any financial trouble. Other than complaining about my credit lines getting cut nothing I said ever implied that we were in any financial trouble. But simply because we had begun to watch everything and make everyone accountable people drew their own conclusions.
The danger is that perception can become reality, to many people, so to say, “don’t worry, we are fine” didn’t seem to boost my staff’s confidence. I had an employee meeting to try to kill any rumors. That seemed to help but there was still a sense of uneasiness amongst my staff. This was amazing because what concerned them the most was something that I hadn’t even thought about, which was their future employment.
As a leader, I was so focused on tightening up that every time anyone ask to spend money on anything I just complained and said ‘no.’ So the result of my attitude created insecurity among those I employed. The attitude I had taken to belt tightening gave them the feeling that they may be my next cut, which was not the case at all. This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t terminate a deadbeat employee but unconsiously I was making everyone nervous and this was not my intention. I was adding additional stress to my crew and I was neither a good leader nor helping them produce, as they should.
I’ve realized now that even though times are different they are really better than any of us want to admit. What I mean is that things could be much, much, worse. Everything comes down to how we look at things. The message we send our employees with our attitude as owners can really change how they see things. I started doing some much-needed maintenance and purchased some more key pieces of equipment. I haven’t thrown caution to the wind because we need everything we have done or purchased but I let employees know it was happening.
The payoff is already evident because I am watching my staff’s attitude become more focused and more relaxed. I am seeing that no matter how often told them ‘everything is fine’ they needed to see action to feel comfortable about their future with me. I was sending the wrong message by not moving ahead because I was looking back all too often. Now, all of my plans are for the future and where we are heading. Because the “good old days” will only be the “good old days” as long as we allow them to be. Look to the “Good New Days” Ahead…