Every business has its great days. From product launches, to big sales wins, to the days when everything just seems to work; the great days are easy. However, as our January Executive of the Month, Siobhan Talbot, points out; “it’s on the toughest days that the organisation can come into its own.”
As a leader, the toughest days are the ones that will be most instructive and ultimately most influential in shaping your business. They will also be the days when your people look to you for guidance and leadership. So how do you make the most of the days when things aren’t so easy?
Communication is vital to business success, particularly when there’s a problem. It’s vital that you keep a constant eye on the frequency and quality of your internal communication. If there is a problem, effective communication will mean it is identified early and dealt with immediately. Problems that aren’t flagged due to a lack of communication tend to fester and grow.
Siobhan also highlights the value in creating “an environment in which open dialogue can happen.” By giving your people a platform to communicate you can avoid issues and identify ways to handle them quickly and effectively if they do arise. If you don’t have that open environment, problems will be harder to diagnose and ultimately slower to resolve.
Build a sense of community
Siobhan prides herself on the sense of community and strong culture they have cultivated at Glanbia. “If you look at our values, they speak about the customer champion being front-and-centre and that performance matters. We have a natural curiosity and an innovative mindset in terms of finding a better way.”
This, she says, is especially important on the tough days. “I think encouraging that sense of community, making people feel they are part of something, is really important. That was a real ambition of ours when we were setting out our purpose statement. We wanted everybody in the organisation – no matter what level they are at or what part of the group they are in – to really sit under the same banner of nutrition, so they can absolutely understand and stand beneath that purpose.”
The most important thing to do on the tough days is to learn. It’s inevitable that your business will encounter problems from time to time. Markets contract as well as expand, competitors will always do their best to disrupt, and the next human error is only just around the corner. While you should develop a culture of excellence and strive for perfection, you should ne prepared for the days when you fall short.
In fact, those days will only really make you stronger. As Siobhan points out, the toughest days are “when people within the organisation can learn most.” When things go wrong, encourage your people to take the time to understand why and use that learning to avoid future problems or improve their process in the future.
As a leader, the learning and the drive to learn should come from you first. “You have to support people on the not-so-great, as well as the great, days.” The great days often take care of themselves. It’s on the not-so-great days that you will truly build your business.