I talk with leaders regularly who lead an organization struggling to grow. They are trying to figure out how to succeed again. It could be a pastor, a ministry or non-profit leader, or a businessperson, but they want to spur another season of growth.
I understand. Every organization experiences times or seasons of decline. I’ve been the leader in these situations many times.
What you do next – when these seasons come – almost always determines how long they last and how well you recover.
First, I should say, every situation is unique and requires individual attention. Don’t use a script for your team. Don’t take principles or suggestions, even these I’m sharing here, and think they are a magic pill.
Also, don’t be afraid to bring in outside help. It could be anyone from a paid consultant to trading a friend a favor who leads another team. Everyone can use a fresh perspective at times. Wise leaders welcome input from outsiders. (If I can help you, please let me know.)
With those disclaimers in mind, I can offer a few suggestions to shape your current thoughts.
What do you do when your organization is stalled or struggling for a win?
Here are 7 suggestions:
Pretending there isn’t a problem will only make things worse and delay making things better. Most likely everyone in the organization knows there is a problem. This is where the leader must be humble enough enough to recognize and admit the problem.
(I realize an obvious question is “What do I do when the leader isn’t this humble?” This would be the focus of another post, but hopefully this post will help. Perhaps you should email it to them.)
People regularly need reminding why they are doing what they are doing. You should have a vision big enough to fuel people’s energy towards achieving it. If you don’t have one, spend time there first.
If you already do it is probably time to tell it again. And again. And frequently. (For my pastor friends, you have a vision given to you – we know it – we just sometimes get distracted by other things. Tradition. Programs. Systems. Stuff.)
The why behind what you’re doing is always be the fuel for what we do.
Times we are stalled are good opportunities to ask hard questions? What is going wrong? Who is not working out on the team? Where have we lost our way? Where are we stuck? How did we lose our way? What are we missing?
This is a great place to bring in some outside perspective if needed. I have learned often the answers are in the room if we ask the right questions. Sometimes an outsider can help draw them out of the team.
The less you try to protect personal agendas here the greater chance you’ll have of recovery.
You need to try something new. Growth never happens without change. Perhaps you need several somethings new. We tend to hold on even more to our traditions and what has worked in the past in times of stalling, but now is not the time to resist doing something different. Obviously, what you’ve been doing isn’t working, which is the point of the post.
Take another risk – as scary as it is. Explore again. Be intentional and make sure the changes line with the vision, but encourage movement. Movement often spurs momentum.
There are usually areas which are working and areas which are not. If no areas are working, you may be looking for different answers than this post can provide. Sometimes it’s hard to discern what is working when you are clouded by what isn’t working, but you must try.
Often these are things the team is known for or things which are fairly new but are working. Wherever there is a spark of any kind, you must fuel it. This is usually the best place to spur more momentum quickly. Maybe you need to build upon something you’ve taken for granted. In church revitalization, I use the term “rediscover – don’t reinvent”. Build upon the things which are working currently.
Celebrate small wins
When you have something to celebrate, make a big deal out of it. A really big deal. Put your party hat on and cheer together with your team. Don’t go overboard over something people will quickly dismiss as nothing, but if you are seeing any signs of hope, share it. People need the energy of something going well to keep pushing forward for even more success.
Encourage one another
As a final thought, remember, the hard times as a team can actually help build your team for long-term success. Consequently, allow this to be a time you grow together as a team, figure out this together, and help the team to grow and succeed again. Pray for and with each other. Cheer each other on daily! You can do it!
Have you been a part of a turnaround team? What helped?