"A lot of companies are going on efficiency kicks, and it's a lot like going on a health kick. Every January, people hit the gym so they can shed the holiday pounds. And when businesses fear an economic downturn, they do the same thing. They try to get leaner and they try to get healthier. And that's what's happening now.
Employees tend to view efficiency as code for layoffs, but that's usually not the case. Most companies have the equivalent of very modest weight loss goals. There's no need for layoffs. Companies simply slow the pace of hiring and open positions take longer to fill, which actually improves job security.
Health kicks mean you give up things you really like and embrace some things you don't like. An efficiency kicks work the same way. As a manager, you're going to be asked to implement things that aren't very popular and people are going to resist, just like people resist going to the gym and changing their diet. A good manager is going to be like a good personal trainer. And the best personal trainers are good role models.
Say you jump on a health kick, you join a new gym and you sign up with a personal trainer. But they show up late, they're eating a doughnut, and they're really out of shape. They look and they act unhealthy. Chances are you're going to have a hard time following their lead. But say you show up and your trainer is already there and they're drinking a smoothie and they're doing a bunch of pushups to warm up. It's easy to follow their lead because they're a reflection of something positive and attractive, something you want to become. Or you want to be a part of. They don't have all the answers. And when you lead a team through an efficiency kick, neither will you. What they have is positive energy, positive intent, positive expectations.
Remember this: People follow leaders that seem to be headed in a positive direction, the corporate equivalent of a personal trainer that's unfit and out of shape. They always look and sound the same. They're always looking for reasons why things can't be done. They rationalize unhealthy or unproductive behaviors. They make excuses. They avoid making the tough decisions. They're the before picture in a weight loss act. They bitch about being unhealthy, but they do nothing to change. They're a daily reminder of why change is needed. And you don't want to be that leader.
Listen, fitness kicks and efficiency kicks can be scary because they push people to change and change occurs outside our comfort zones. But managers that lead their teams through efficiency kicks make everyone healthier. They're the after photo and the weight loss ad. And they're a daily reminder of what healthy companies look like.
So be a role model. Lead from the front, be a problem solver, celebrate success and stay positive. You're going to help your team get healthier. You're going to be healthier and your company is going to be healthier."
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