CEO & Founder at THE HR ICU. Providing simple, affordable and time-efficient HR tools for all levels of people leaders in an organization.
Living in the present moment is something we read about all the time in magazines, newsletters and, of course, the numerous posts on social media. But all these excerpts always seem to focus on individuals. I have yet to find an article that discusses how a business should live in the present moment.
It is understandable that, as business owners and leaders, we cannot solely focus on the present moment. We need to plan for the future, be it succession planning, financial goals or forecasting our 5- and 10-year plans. Although it is necessary for a business to plan for its future, hopefully, any business owner can see from the past 20 months that living in the present moment can be even more important than always focusing on what’s next.
What If Syndrome
Part of forecasting for the future is to think and plan for shifts in the market, possibilities in business and general thinking outside the box. On paper, I believe it is great for executives and leaders to create business plans and processes on how to handle situations and what to do if XYZ happens. However, this information and plans are meant to stay at the executive level and only be shared with middle managers or others should it be needed.
During my 20 years in HR, I have observed numerous situations arise from poor communication that could easily have been avoided if the right information was shared appropriately with the right people. So, what do I mean by this? Leaders are trained at different levels to handle different things (or so we hope), and there really is a time and place for information to be shared. I do believe in transparency (yet not when it’s detrimental to people’s mental health). Many businesses assume that leaders know how to deliver a message, but these leaders are not given enough parameters on what and how to deliver information; therefore, it turns into a free-for-all. One department will get completely different information from another department, and then, of course, employees talk. This is when the “What if Syndrome” kicks in and people’s minds start playing tricks on them. They ask each other questions such as “Why did you get this info and we did not?” Or, “We were not told this. We were told XYZ, and we believe what our boss says, not yours.”
This lack of parameters and guidance creates a lot of anxiety within an organization, which results in stress for a lot of people, including not only the business but also then its vendors, contractors, etc., as it never takes long for information to be shared via poor communication. So, as opposed to thinking and talking about what-ifs, leaders, especially the ones in the “trenches” as we would call them, should focus on what the business and its people need now.
Communication For The Present
So how does all this relate to living in the present moment? It is my belief that a business needs to place more focus on its employees. Pre-Covid-19, everything in life was going at such a fast pace, especially in North America. Businesses needed their teams to do more with less and there were not many exceptions to that norm. A business and its leaders would get so tied up with checking things off a list or hitting their stretch targets that more and more they disconnected themselves from the people who were keeping their business afloat.
After 20 months of living a different life, even if your particular business did not change much, you need to acknowledge that the world changed. Whether it’s during recruitment, training, development or just plain fun at work, you need to appreciate the current moment. Throwing a pizza party for staff to keep them happy is not good enough anymore. The real key is to enhance communication with your staff. Many businesses did well with CEO newsletters, pulse surveys, etc., but leaders also need to shift their focus and do more one-on-ones, as this is where you can get your best information on what will create positive engagement now, today.
Business owners are more responsible for living in the present moment than they ever were before. Since people have revisited their life desires, needs and wants, it’s up to leaders and owners to adapt. We should not and cannot expect to do what we did before. We cannot talk about how life was before, or complain, judge or performance manage someone about how their work ethic was before. There is no point in comparing the current business world to pre-20 months as we would not be comparing apples to apples.
Understand and appreciate that it is up to the business and leader to adapt to the business climate as it is today. And should it change tomorrow, then, again, that flexibility will be important. If you want to attract and retain your team, focus on what is important to them today, as it may not be the same tomorrow.