This post comes from Allen Fishman, Founder and Chairman, The Alternative Board
It's scary when your plans are no longer realistic because of economic challenges, such as the current recession, which are outside your control. But, don't let fear get in the way of success. Fear typically sets up a barrier that can make you shortsighted and stop you from doing the things that are within your control. In turn, this inaction can paralyze employees leaving them feeling overwhelmed. If you do feel fear, don't let your employees see it. Radiate an unshakable belief in success and your employees will feed off this and respond positively to your course changes. Employees need confidence in their leaders, so if you have doubts and fears, share them in confidence with your fellow TAB Board members.
Changing course during tough economies requires strategic thinking, a planning process and a business leader ready and able to make tough decisions. Focus on what you can do about the problems your company is facing. For example, one of the areas you need to identify are "sacred cows" that need to be eliminated. Often these "sacred cows" are initiatives that should not be continued under current circumstances. However, the decision that leaders can't - or won't- make is to let the money and the human resources time invested in the initiative go down the drain. In some cases, the original decision to find the initiative was a mistake and the business owner has a problem admitting they made a mistake.
Many of these business owners don't take the right action to eliminate the "sacred cows" because they think such an admission will take away from the respect their employees have for them. This couldn't be more incorrect. Typically, all it takes is admitting you made a mistake and then executing a course change that works to earn the respect and cooperation you need to succeed.
If your business plans are no longer feasible, you'll only be seen as a failure by your employees, lenders and customers/clients if you continue to try and make those plans happen. So, create course changes that inspire employees to make the changes succeed and show everyone that you are a Strategic Business Leader.