How To Navigate The Summer Slump In Your Business
As summer drags on, many teams find themselves navigating what I call the “summer slump.”
Each year around this time motivation lags, deal flow slows, and tempers flare. I think it has to do with the fact that teams often find themselves halfway through the year, but not necessarily halfway to their annual goals.
Fortunately, it’s possible for leaders to navigate their way out of this midsummer malaise. Here’s how.
Don’t let your frustrations manifest themselves in weird ways
I have a confession to make. When I feel like we’re in a slump or am frustrated with a situation, my reaction manifests in strange, semi-related ways.
For example, last year I went on a personal jihad regarding the time people come into the office, rather than directly address the core issues.
As with most emotional reactions, my response made sense to me but few others. I’ve always said that if people are getting their work done, it doesn’t matter what time they come into the office.
At the time, however, I didn’t feel like we were been making the progress that I want to see. As a result, I began to ask people to be in by 8am, but didn’t have much luck getting through to the team.
I suspected that they didn’t see what all the fuss is about; after all, we’ve always had relatively flexible schedules. However, I saw arrival time as an outward sign that a person cares about their work and is putting forth full effort.
When people would roll in at 8:45, leave at 5:15, and didn’t produce the expected results, I saw that as an indication that like they just didn’t care. And that, of course, made me mad.
I recognized, however, that this wasn’t the most productive approach for a leader to take. Instead of griping about the time people got into the office, I came to the conclusion that I had to simply address the problem of lower productivity head on.
I think a large part of me simply hoped that people make the connection on their own and do the right thing. That strategy, of course, is driven by emotion rather than logic. Clarity and straightforwardness, as usual, is the better course of action.
Set clear expectations for the team
The gap that exists between expectations and reality is often at the root of most internal conflicts. It is important, therefore, for leaders to carefully manage expectations and err on the side of over-communication.
Remember that expectations, like so many things in life, are subject to external influences, changing environments, and things that are simply outside of our control.
Still, leaders must recognize that these things are mitigating factors, not excuses. They must factor into the decision-making and communication process without dictating them.
Each summer, I hold an all-hands meeting where the entire team can get together and discuss where we stand relative to our goals and expectations. Conducting a level-setting meeting like this is key to overcoming a summer slump.
It gives leaders a chance to reinforce the positive things going on at the business and shut down any growing problems before they become unmanageable.
Stay strong and muscle through
When all's said and done, the only way to really get over a slump is to muscle straight through it. Leaders and their teams simply need to buck up and get on with the tasks at hand.
Muscling through frustrating situations might not be easy and it almost certainly never fun, but it does provide a path to better days. That’s exactly what we’re doing at BodeTree.
When going through the midsummer malaise, it is important to remember the old adage that “this too shall pass.” Teams cannot let their personal feelings dictate their actions. Instead, they must identify those feelings, revisit expectations, and keep moving forward no matter what.