Positioning a wind sail properly will accelerate a boat through the water. My eighteen-year training business evaporated when the virus hit and people started avoiding group activities. Some classes were converted to the digital medium, however, most simply were postponed indefinitely. My business stopped with an imaginary thump.
Now, companies are reaching out to me for training to prepare for the recovery. They need to prepare leadership teams for a post-pandemic reality. What do these smart companies know? Why are they different from other companies who are struggling to overcome a difficult time? Imagine a large group of ants on a stick in the water. Thousands of little creatures are attempting to survive in the middle of a pond. This pandemic is like a huge wave that knocked them off the stick and into the water. Now, all the ants are racing back to the safety of the stick that will take them to the shore. I seem to have too many water analogies on my mind today. Please forgive me.
We are now in a race after two months of lockdown. What does competitive advantage look like? Those who know “get it” and those who don’t, well this writing is for you. The pandemic has disrupted the economy and companies are racing back to the front of the field. Think of a major accident in a stock car race. We have been under the caution flag for over two months. This is a tremendous opportunity to reset the competitive field in any business sector. This is a chance to win the race. The harder your business has been hit, the bigger the opportunity. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but stay with me.
Difficult times, like major wars, are always followed by periods of growth and opportunity. Everything heals. Your body heals. Your mind heals. Bad times do not last. As broken as your business seems, if you can survive, you will heal. The time for whining and complaining is over. Your recovery doesn’t have to be pretty or graceful. You must keep going because you are in a race.
You are in a race for market share, customers, contracts, or something else. Whatever your business provides, there are competitors who want to (need to) beat you to the front of the line. We are scrambling to get back on the stick. Sadly, many companies will slowly attempt to restart cautiously. They will ease back into the economy with hesitance and reservation. Not you!
Repositioning in the business sector is difficult during periods of normalcy. Periods of crisis tend to shuffle the entire deck. They are an opportunity. Some banks will gain large numbers of business customers because they helped other businesses with PPP loans while other banks did not reach out to their own customers during a crisis. Energy companies will take market share from larger companies that did not spend time marketing and building relationships during the pandemic and subzero oil prices. Restaurants that pivoted to take-out early; gained a loyal following on social media, while others shuttered doors to wait things out. Want one more? Hospitals that furloughed loyal staff will see top performers take jobs with other hospitals that trained leaders to communicate, avoid blame, and build trust.
You are in a race for talent. Now is the time to tighten your laces and prepare to accelerate. Lean toward the opportunity for your businesses. Dehire mediocre performers and replace them with top performers that short-sighted companies released to save money. We will likely never see this many top performers (A-Players) available at one time in our lifetime again. Companies are in a target-rich environment when it comes to talent. Top salespeople are out there looking for a new home. Amazing engineers are looking for a place to park their calculators. Talented cooks are ready to bless the mouths of your customers. Bright information technologists are looking for a new basement to hide with a bank of servers. I apologize (a little) for the last one.
Follow a simple rule. The team with the best talent wins the most games, period. Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great opined, first who, then what. Get the right people (on your imaginary bus) in the right seats, and then figure out what you are going to do. The pandemic has flipped your bus on its side and people have been thrown from the window.
Talent hits a target others cannot reach. The potential for your business is directly proportional to the talent on your team. Ray Kroc took an existing business and made it a household name around the world; McDonald's. Steve Jobs resurrected Apple and made a dent in the universe of humanity. What if one of these people are out there (and available) because a myopic fool decided to save some money?
Shame on you! If you do not recover from this pandemic with more talent than when it started, shame on you. Your chance to upgrade your business is now. Your chance to upgrade your team is now. Take advantage of the tremendous opportunity created by this pandemic. Be stronger, faster, and more profitable for the future. You have a chance to build an all-star team like never before in our lifetimes.
Mediocre performers should be worried. Every company I work with (during this recovery) will have sights on “B” players. Think about it. You have tolerated these people. You have tolerated acceptable performance. You made excuses for not taking action. Over and over and over; you failed to take action on mediocre performance. You are feeling nauseous as you read this because mediocrity is contagious. It is a disease. “A” players are the sails for your boat. They will accelerate your business through these rough waters. You can be bitter or you can be better. The race to better is on. Develop your raw talent. Replace your tattered sails. There will never be a better time to do so!