Making strong business decisions in changing times- what does 2019 have in store?
Through my work, I am constantly reminded of the important need for business owners to stay nimble and responsive in changing times. Keeping an open mind to emerging external factors, while also addressing internal business dynamics, can challenge any leader who is trying to maintain a long view. As we support our clients in maintaining the long view, certain themes develop. Right now, 2019’s theme is most certainly the year of differentiation.
Differentiating yourself as business leaders is not just lip service. You must, through your actions, demonstrate the ability to lead from your own, unique compass, with your own special talents, sensibilities, and resources. In this era, where every widget can be replicated, and made at a lower cost in China, where online content is shamelessly repurposed, where the gig economy offers many services at a lower price point. Throughout my career, the three lessons about differentiation are: keeping your ears tuned towards changing external factors, refining your business core processes to respond, and then, ultimately trusting yourself.
Here are the lessons about differentiation:
- Ears tuned to external factors: If it was not super apparent, gender in the workplace was a big theme for 2018. Did you notice this? What did you learn? Do you know of the laws that have changed as a result? For example, this month, we have shared a resource on the new sexual harassment training requirement for employers with 5+ employees, which most employers will need to implement this year. As a business owner, the first thought in response to this new law may be exasperation at the addition of yet another regulatory burden. Exasperation is understandable, as the laws in CA for employers are unrivaled, in my opinion.
On the other hand, this new law should be no surprise to anyone who has read the news in the last couple of years. In this example, keeping our ears tuned to external factors requires curiosity. Ask yourself: Why are all employees needing training? And, why for so many companies, even the small ones?
This inquiry may help you consider the intent behind the law. That the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace impacts both big and small companies, and that all employees, not just supervisors, need to understand what their employers’ policies are on this topic. The opportunity to support your company in being the best it can be, including on the topic of sexual harassment, may ultimately benefit your team’s feelings of connection to their work and their team, and thus, also supporting your company’s profitability and success.
- Refine processes: Once an external factor has been identified, in this case, emerging laws related to sexual harassment in the workplace, the next step is to look at your company’s goals for 2019 and be sure that sexual harassment training is added to the list (assuming you have 5+ employees). The final step here, then is integration. What policies or procedures need to get updated? And, which team members will implement by when? Make sure you update the company’s core processes to integrate this new requirement will help you stay on top of future external factors and changes going forward. See our PDF handout on the new Sexual Harassment training, to see a couple of examples of which processes you may need to update. And, of course, do your research, to make sure you have selected the best resources for your team, including engaging other professionals to help support your best solution.
- Trust yourself: When steps 1 + 2 are completed, it may go without saying, but the next step here is trusting yourself. What I mean by this is honoring your own unique leadership style and your company’s unique culture. What works for you and your team, may not work for others. Trust this and have the confidence to stay the course. Differentiation is all about this last step. We forget sometimes that “doing it the way it has always been done” isn’t the best solution. The best solution comes from those who question this notion, so that they can be flexible and nimble in changing times. There is nothing wrong with honoring how things have been done in the past, as long as they are still relevant to the future.