Every town has that one commercial spot that seems to be "cursed," the corner space that has had three different restaurants fail in the past few years or the retail spot that is perpetually changing stores. Or perhaps it's an existing business that is in free fall, seeing revenue decreases quarter after quarter. Smart leaders don't believe in curses. They analyze data, make educated decisions and surround themselves with the right people and culture.
However, they also acknowledge that while curses may be the stuff of fairy tales, the gloom that surrounds the perception of one can be all too real. When a business has seemingly everything going against it, applying four keys to reversing the momentum and the "curse" is critical.
Change things up.
Enduring great companies have a way of both reacting to and rebounding from failures. First, they are quick to identify mistakes. It's far easier to alter the impact of a mistake earlier rather than later in the game. Problems become proportionately more difficult to overcome the longer they persist. In addition to spotting trouble upfront, the best companies also learn from their mistakes. They don't simply try not to repeat them; they also study why a particular strategy didn't work and how they were fooled originally into a bad decision. They take the Great by Choice, expensive tuition approach to mistakes, learn from them, apply the lessons, and never repeat.
Talk about the future more than the past.
In sports, you can often feel the momentum changing in a game. A team that is winning on the scoreboard all of sudden slips. They make a physical or mental error. Now, the players start to get tight. Next, they're playing not to make a mistake. And, lo and behold, they make another miscue. Panic starts to set in and it's "here we go again." The mindset of the team becomes playing not to lose, rather than going for a win.
Teams get to this spot because they are more focused on what has gone wrong in the past, than what they can do about impacting the future. Learn from the past, yes. But the key is implementing new change, not dwelling on old gaffs. Great leaders set the tone for the team. They own past mistakes, but they also clearly explain what was gained from them and most importantly, why things will change moving forward. The future and what the team is about to do becomes a more powerful story than what the team didn't do in the past.
Teach the team how to handle adversity.
Unfortunately, one uncertainty in life is that you will face adversity. Rarely will you be able to foresee it, or know how it will present itself, but it will appear. Some people have a knack for handling anything life throws at them. Most, however, need to learn this skillset. The teams that are able to overcome downslides are the ones whose leaders are best equipped to persevere through the darkest times.
Preparing your team for adversity can take many forms. For starters, recognize those on your team who have beaten a tough challenge (on the job or in their personal life) and share it with their peers. It will not only be a great way to recognize a team member, but it also will act as a tutorial on how to react to challenge. Also, realize that, like most things in life, you improve with experience and training. Let your team members' personal examples act as a way to share experiences and simultaneously serve as coaching opportunities.
Carefully select the people you add to your team.
The right mental make-up of new hires can make all the difference in turning around a team's mojo. Adding not just new troops to the team, but the right troops, can make all the difference. If the newest additions to the team have the right attitude and the right amount of mental fortitude, it can become infectious. The key is finding those with the right make-up, who will have a bigger, more positive influence on those around them than vice-versa.
One of the most difficult things to do in all of business is to change the course of a fledgling operation. While challenging, it can be accomplished with the right mix of change, learning, coaching and new faces.