Is your arrow headed up or down?
Over the last twenty years of consulting work, I’ve seen many of the ups and downs of the American Corporate landscape. In the nineties the high-tech industry was on an extreme upward climb. And then the dot.com bust. The large Pharma industry was doing great through the nineties and into the “oughts” and then the patents began to expire causing extensive downsizing and mergers. The collapse of the American auto industry and the industrial age has been dramatic. And those are just the major industrial cycles. Every business has its own cycles as well. At any point in time your arrow can be headed up or down as industries and businesses cycle.
It always seems to be easier to exhibit patience when the arrow is headed up. When it’s headed down there seems to be less tolerance, more friction and increased pressure to just do it “my way” that breaks down the fiber and fabric of a team. But, if these cycles of ups and downs seem to be inevitable and a natural part of our business, how do we maintain patience equally well during the up swings and down turns?
Hope! Teams with no hope have no room for patience. Teams with hope seem to maintain patience even in the most difficult of circumstance.
Now hope is one of those words that has lost much of its original intent or has certainly taken on at least two definitions. Most people think of hope as a wished for feeling that all will turn out positive in the end despite current circumstance. But some of the original understandings of the word and concept of hope is a positive assurance that things can and will be accomplished in spite of current circumstance.
One of the experiences that I’ve had through the years is that no matter how difficult or poor circumstances may be for the overall corporation, I have always been able to fine “pockets of excellence.” There is always a team or a division or a unit where the people are positive, energized, respectful and patient as they work toward their desired results even under difficult circumstance.
One of the results that you can work toward and you can maintain, even when the business may be suffering (maybe through no fault of your own) is how the team will actually work together.
- How will we face the challenges?
- How will we ration our limited resources?
- How will we make decisions and what will be the order of our priorities?
- How can we prepare for multiple scenarios and be prepared to act as each unfolds?
- What can we learn about the make-up of our team and identify patterns of stress before they manifest?
Teams that commit to positive team interactions, understandings, and support in the face of daunting circumstances survive better than those who let the circumstances dictate. You’ll find that patience can be experienced even in difficult times with a little planning, fore thought and commitment.