Stuck? Here’s how to get unstuck.
Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC
It can happen to the best of us. Our business may be in growth mode for a period of time, and then we lose momentum for one reason or another. Plateaus happen. Companies are not immune to big fluctuations in their business cycle. The challenge is knowing how to spot, assess, and plan for these unexpected situations so you can get back on track. The key is both managing the size of the dip and the duration of the dip.
Following are actionable steps (the 3 R’s) you can take to reclaim your footing and reduce the adverse impact of the dip.
Rather than honing-in on failure, instead shift your focus to celebrate your organization’s wins and find ways to replicate or build off what’s worked before. Why reinvent the wheel? Maybe there are some unmined nuggets of wisdom that could come out of this creative exploration.
You also might survey your most loyal clients as to why they keep coming back. It never hurts to express your appreciation. You might cross-sell, upgrade, or add-on to foster goodwill and drive additional incremental sales. While you’re at, ask them to be frank about ways in which you might improve. You could extend this practice to your team if you have employees. Just be sure that any feedback is anonymous so that people don’t feel like negative comments could threaten their job security. Earlier this year, The NIIC began using a continuous customer satisfaction and engagement system called Happy or Not. This system gives us real-time feedback on how things are going. In nearly five months, we have received nearly 5x the client and guest feedback we received in the entire prior year providing us useful intelligence on how we are doing.
Most people don’t wake up as Steve Jobs or Elon Musk so they don’t even know what we don’t know. Sometimes our dreams and aspirations only limit us. We believe that our work has value and a strong why behind it. In other words, we are untainted by failure or the expectations we place on ourselves. However, as we advance in our business, we often get caught up in the day-to-day operations and lose touch with this passion that sustains us through the tough times. This often leads us to work in and not on our business.
The antidote? If we can find a way to reconnect with the feelings that caused us to start or build our business in the first place, we may find new ways to resolve long-standing challenges. Perspective is everything.
Reflect and Recharge.
Take a servant leader’s approach. When in doubt, ask yourself, “How can I be of service?” When you feel you’re in a creative valley, know that one way out is giving without the expectation of anything in return. Perhaps you become a mentor. What about serving as a keynote speaker at a charity event? Alternatively, maybe you consider how you can better provide, deliver or reimagine a new service offering to your target audience. By giving back and paying it forward, you will recharge your batteries likely making yourself a better you not only for yourself but for the lives of others you touch.
If you have recently struggled with a plateau, how did you work your way out of it?