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Groundhog Day for Managers

On the same day as Wiarton Willie, Punxsutawney Phil and five of their marmot-meterologist cousins in North American come out to predict how much more winter we’ll have, many managers keep emerging from their holes to see how much more economic winter we’ll have left. Typically if its clear and sunny, the groundhog sees its shadow and hibernates for six more weeks. If it’s cloudy, the expectation is that there will be warmer weather ahead and winter will be shorter. Perhaps that’s the opposite of what you would expect – sunny = more winter, cloudy = early spring. In the same way, managers need to see cloudy days as a sign things will get better. Every day this recession goes on is a day closer to recovery.

Managers right now are coming out of their burrows, seeing the shadow of economic distress and predicting that things will be tough for a long time to come. It’s the same phenomena that strikes in good times – we think they’ll go on forever without a correction. And now that we’re in tough times – we think they’ll go on forever. Of course neither are true.

The challenge for managers is to keep their organization moving forward. I have had the pleasure of meeting with a number of companies lately that are doing pretty well – they have chosen not to participate in the downturn. They are focused on markets with lots of growth potential and that are profitable to serve.

Chart Your Course

As a manager, determine where your organization needs to go in order to be successful. Instead of being paralyzed and going back in your hole for 6 more weeks, be proactive. Which target markets do you need to go after that will generate the profit you need? What will it take to attract those customers. That doesn’t mean you have to go after premium customers. McDonalds and WalMart are doing well in the lower end of the market – the challenge is keeping your costs low and getting lots of customers to buy from you – that doesn’t work for many small businesses.

Stay Committed

Once you decide where you want to take the organization, it will take commitment to get there. Initially you will face resistance because others will not see the need for change or realize the full potential. Keep focused on the end result and taking the steps to get there.

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