Saturday, February 18, 2012

Turning the Corner - How to Regain Momentum

Momentum is a powerful thing in any organization. When it's going your way everything is easier. It takes less effort to get more results, people are excited; there's a "buzz" in the air. When momentum is going the wrong way everything is more difficult; the lack of energy is palpable. So, how can you turn it around.

Identify the cause.
When did things begin to turn for the worse? Was it a leadership decision, a change in policy or product, or an outside occurrence? Until you know why you are in the shape you're in, changing it will be difficult.

Speak to it directly.
Leaders are often hesitant to admit when mistakes have been made or even that things aren't going well. What they don't realize is that the people in their organization already know. They're looking for honesty and integrity from their leaders. Speaking the truth can inspire confidence and trust.

Re-affirm your commitment.
Are you here for the long haul? Do you believe in what you are doing? Leaders must ask themselves these questions and then re-affirm this to those who are following them. No-one is going to put out effort and energy when they don't know whether or not the leader is going to be there for the long haul. Let them know that you still believe and that you're commited. If not - get out.

Identify your core.
Who are those people who "have your back?" This may be a much smaller group than it used to be, but once you identify them you at least know the facts. Who are they? What skills, talents and abilities do they have? How do their skill sets match up with your current programming?

Consider a re-organization.
When I found myself in this position I realized that we were trying to operate too many programs with too few people. We made painful decisions to cut some popular programs in order to focus on those things that would move us further down the road. We made a commitment that we would only start new programs as the leadership and volunteers emerged and only if they were sustainable. This gave a sense of relief to our volunteers, some of whom were dangerously close to burnout.

Focus on your strengths.
What is it that you do well as an organization? Focusing on those things can go a long way to improving morale and confidence. If you have been struggling for a while, it can make a big difference to allow people to operate in their comfort zone; their area of expertise. This alleviates a great deal of stress and makes the work enjoyable.

Feed the fire.
When something starts to work, throw resources at it and keep it going. Success breeds success. Celebrate those successes - everyone likes a party.

Don't let it happen again.
This is easier said than done, but the easiest way to regain momentum is not to lose it in the first place. The illustration below shows the normal lifecycle of an organization. The key to moving forward and not losing momentum is making changes before you fall into decline.

Thoughts to remember:
"Success requires first expending ten units of effort to product one unit of results. Your momentum will then produce ten units of results with each unit of effort."
~ Charles J. Givens

"When you're successful, things have a momentum, and at a certain point you can't really tell whether you have created the momentum or it's creating you."
~ Annie Lennox

Related Articles:
The Importance of Defining Success
Learn This Lesson First
The Pareto Principle
Key Leadership Qualities - Resourcefulness
Authentic Leadership

No comments:

Post a Comment