Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio May
BY Randy G. Pennington
HOW TO THRIVE IN TOUGH TIMES
Timeless principles to help meetings managers weather the
current economic slump
Are you nervous about the economy? Many people
are, and a reactionary response has been a resumption of the mass
layoffs that marked the early 1990s. So much for those recruiting
statements about caring for people.
Cutting budgets especially in areas that do not directly
contribute to a company’s bottom-line is another knee-jerk response
to lean economic times. Meet-ing planning departments are once
again appearing on the radar screen as easy targets for potential
You cannot always influence the actions of CEOs, but you can
ensure that you and your team have the best possible chance to
weather the current storm. The following tenets of effective
leadership offer practical advice as well as inspiration.
DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE
Everything is connected. Success depends on our
ability to create interdependent partnerships where everyone takes
responsibility for positive results.
The leaders who succeed understand the magnitude and simplicity
of our connections. A layoff to lower costs also lowers confidence
and has a ripple effect through the entire economy. A decision to
move away from a trusted supplier based solely on price
considerations has an equally damaging effect. Every decision you
make is connected, and the partnerships that are destroyed today
might be critical in the future.
It is who you know. We compete with three
tools: products, services and relationships. Delivering a good
product and good service no longer guarantees success in the
marketplace. Relationships make the difference.
Successful relationships require commitment, time and hard work.
It is a truth that can be observed in long-term personal
relationships and in the way successful organizations relate to
their customers, suppliers and employees. Reduced communication is
often the first symptom of a troubled personal relationship. The
same applies to relationships with customers, suppliers, employees
and stakeholders. Now is the time to invest more in building the
relationships that will carry you through tough times.
Integrity matters. Management expert W. Edwards
Deming said, “Without trust, there can be no cooperation between
people, teams, departments, divisions. Without trust, each
component will protect its own immediate interests, to its
long-term detriment and to the detriment of the entire system.” If
people don’t trust you, they will look out for themselves even when
it hurts them in the long run. You need others to look beyond their
self-interests to the interests of the enterprise. Tell the truth,
and deliver on commitments. Everyone is watching.
Everyone leads. Leadership is a matter of
performance, not position. Leaders are those who help us move from
where we are to where we need to be. You can encourage leadership
by giving people more control over their own success. Begin with
ensuring that everyone understands the mission and vision of each
project. Next, give them the knowledge and skills to do their jobs.
Let them know the boundaries, and give them the freedom to fail in
pursuit of the organization’s success. Growing leaders is the best
way to leverage your commitment to ongoing success.
Create momentum in your department through
vision. A compelling vision generates enthusiasm and
creates opportunities for ownership. The creative tension that
results from comparing where you are to where you want to be drives
the recognition and motivation for positive change.
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