April 25, 2013
The People Who Go the the Trainer the Most Are the Onese Who Were int eh Best Shape to Begin With
Have you ever noticed this? That the people working out with trainers in the gym are usually in great shape? So why do they keep working with the trainer? So they maintain their awesome level of fitness, of course!
The lesson for business is the same. Just because you have a strong suit doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore it and rest on your laurels (at least not for very long). This is true in good times, and in bad times.
When things are going well, it can feel like it’s the right time to turn your focus to new things, or to fixing broken things. And that is true to some extent, but it can’t come at the expense of continuing to develop what’s working.
And the temptation to “cut and coast” in the areas of the business that are working well is especially strong when times get tough and resources are stretched. In fact, the situation is the opposite. When times get tough and resources are stretched, it’s even more important to double down on the parts of the business that work well.
Why is all of this true?
–Your strong suits have a disproportionate impact on business results. Are you a product-first organization? Then great product is what makes your organization successful. Keep producing more of it. Are you a sales-dominant organization? Sell more. Are you a people-first organization? Your people don’t become less important over time. Why would you – in any business environment – do less of what makes you successful?
– Your strong suits are bellwethers for employee insight into the organization. The things that your company does that are best in class are the things that employees take their cues from, and that employees have the most pride in. Let those things go – and you risk alienating your most enthusiastic employees. This isn’t to say that companies should have “third rails,” things that are the equivalent of Social Security or the Pentagon, where the minute someone talks about a budget cut, hysteria ensues. And it’s not about silly perks (you can be a people-first organization whether or not you have “bring your pet to work day”). But whatever is important to you one day can’t suddenly be unimportant the next day without risking a high degree of employee whiplash.
– Your strong suits compensate for your weaknesses. The last two points are all about strong suits being out in front. But I’d argue that your strong suits do more than that. They protect you from your weaknesses. Think about it metaphorically, and relating back to the title of this post, think about the body. When you have a broken leg, your arms get stronger because you need to use them to crutch yourself around. If you also broke your arms, you’d have a real problem! In business, it’s the same. Strong sales teams tend to compensate for weak marketing teams – invest less in sales, it actually hurts marketing, too. Strong product can compensate for weak sales teams – so more stagnant product hits twice as hard.
All this may sound obvious. There are other comparable axioms like “put your best people on your biggest opportunities,” and “manage to your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses.” And yet, the temptations to coast are real. So get going to that gym and see your trainer for your weekly appointment. Even if you’re in great shape.