I’m a big fan of auto racing, and an even bigger fan of Formula 1 (F1) racing. These races are a physical challenge for the driver beyond anything we experience as mere mortals on a road trip with our family. The speeds are intense, and you can never relax your grip on the steering wheel, nor can you relax your concentration. The car is loud and vibrating and it affects your vision to see clearly down the road. The intense pressure from the G-forces of the turns become physically draining as you continue to scream through the tight corners. But it is even more than that. You have to be aware of what is in front of you, behind you and beside you as your competition is looking to displace your position on the track. And if you’re not careful, your race could have a race-ending accident or an even worse tragedy.
When a driver pulls into a pit stop to get fresh tires, adjustments to the air foils, or fuel-up, this is the driver’s time to exhale after the intense and fatiguing laps. It’s the driver’s time to relax the muscles, and just sit there and think about what needs to be done for the next several laps. This is called “getting air” and it is the driver’s time, and no one else’s, to recalibrate the race and the driver’s strategy to get ahead after pulling out of the pit stop.
The Need for Getting Air in Business
How does this apply to business? At The Vantage Group, we find through our work with organizations across the country, the first quarter of the year is intense. Leaders know that the first quarter sets the tone for success for the remainder of the year. The quarter starts off with an intense scrutiny of the profit model, or a scramble to get new products or services to market before the competition. It can be a time that feels like the pace is getting faster and faster with no end in sight.
We even find that leaders may have started very well with their priorities and working to implement their strategic plans. We work a lot with organizations to help them look at their leadership priorities and keep them in the right order. Defining purpose and keeping that at the forefront of priorities can quickly get off track if leaders aren’t careful.
Many companies in the first quarter, however, feel that things are off pace and they’re struggling. What is usually happening with all of this intensity is the pace is increasing, new product development is increasing or there is an increase in marketing activity to keep on top. The Profits are getting scrutinized at every turn. And sometimes, leaders start using their people as tools to get “everything” done. Purpose can quickly get lost in the urgency of market conditions and demands. This has the potential for an organization to be off track by April 1st.
Why Do Companies Go Off Track?
When pace increases we also see organizations intensify product development efforts along with social media or marketing efforts. Sales funnels get full and sales activity increases. A renewed emphasis on profits intensifies while people find their time quickly diminishing into a breakneck pace to keep up. Purpose gets lost and people feel their energy waning quickly. This is usually manifested in leaders feeling overworked and their energy and optimism starts to diminish. They may even start micromanaging just to feel better about the out-of-control circumstances. Several coping strategies start to emerge such as focusing on task completion, doing texting, or spending too much time on email.
They start to forget the vision, mission and values. What they need is air, a time to pause, but they just don’t know it.
What is usually happening in the culture is also a symptom of flipping priorities. People have a demeanor that is distracted or acting out emotionally with teammates. There is pressure from management for task completion and looking busy rather than productive. Everyone starts to drift and move away from the big and important goals. They become disengaged and express an unwillingness to engage in conflict and avoid the important conversations and communication needed to strengthen a culture.
It’s not fun to work anymore and there is a lack of hope.
What can you do to get some air?
If this sounds familiar to you, then It is important for your leaders to reprioritize and get back to the purpose that drives success and engagement in the workplace. It’s important to recalibrate and assess your people and look at the company from the outside in. Having your leaders take an assessment, such as Vantage’s Prioritized Leader assessment can help you gain insight as to what is causing fatigue, a lack of clarity around purpose, a lack of accountability to goals or a lack of overall engagement…and why people are leaving.
What do you need as a leader? Do you feel your energy being drained? Whatever you need as a leader, your organization’s culture usually needs it as well. What could be different in your organization if you took the time to recalibrate?
Reprioritize the Five P’s: Purpose, People, Pace, Perception and Profit
Are you ready to get your team on track, aligned and embodying the 5 P’s? If you want your business to be set up for long term, healthy success, our Prioritized Leader program may be just what you need. If you’re ready to experience the perfect solution to deliver results, reach out to us today. The Prioritized Leader is available in on-line or in-person trainings for individuals or group trainings and assessments. Don’t keep struggling to get your team aligned for success. It’s time for that much needed Pitstop to get some air again.