Tag Archives: Stress

How Do You Scale with Scarce Talent? Four Factors

Situation: A software company relies on in-house expertise to both position itself and come up with unique solutions to clients’ problems. The CEO wants to significantly scale up the number of clients served per year. The challenge is that it is difficult to find software engineers who are experienced in a wide range of code languages. How do you scale with scarce talent?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Start by looking at the load carried by your current employees. Do they have the capacity to significantly increase the number of clients that they serve? Do you have sufficient back-up to serve existing and new clients should something happen to a key employee? It’s one thing to have ambition to expand, but another to assure that you have the capacity to serve both existing and new clients.
  • Take a close look at your org chart.
    • What happens and where are the exposures when you double the current service volume? Where will the greatest stresses occur? These are the first areas in which you should start to build redundancy.
    • From an HR standpoint, you need a leadership development plan that extends down your organization chart. Use the stress analysis just mentioned to identify the areas in greatest need of additional resources and leadership development.
  • Look for areas where you can off-load current responsibilities to support staff to increase the capacity of your current talent. This increases potential capacity as well as the overall value of the company.
    • The lack of redundancy may prove to be detrimental to your ability to attract new large clients. Large potential clients and partners will use whatever means they have at their disposal (including stealth visits to your offices by local reps) to vet your organization before they make a commitment to you.
  • New client and partner relationships are like new product introductions.
    • A few early adopters will jump on your opportunity.
    • Many of the most established clients or partners will sit on the sideline to monitor the experience of early adopters.
    • If you trip in your service delivery early in your scale-up, most of the remaining targets will be slow to support your offering.
    • Count on the first two years of building additional clientele to be very intensive. It will distract you from many of the functions you perform today, unless you have additional personnel to support this.

What Have You Done to Manage Rapid Growth? Five Foci

Situation: A company has experienced rapid growth. This is creating stress for the staff and CEO, who finds it difficult to break away from the day to day to focus on strategy. Employees are not keeping pace with the evolving needs of the company and turnover has increased. What have you done to manage rapid growth?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The first task is to improve forecasting of business growth, and the infrastructure needed to support this growth. This includes:
    • Regularly updating your sales and production forecasts.
    • Updating staff and training plans to meet growth forecasts.
    • Updating infrastructure and support plans.
    • Without these, the organization will whipsaw in response to market demands.
  • Take a critical look at your staff development plans and staff training.
    • Look at those areas that are most impacted by business growth. Determine whether you have the right managers and support in place.
    • Evaluate whether you have the right people and whether they have the skills to handle new demands of their positions.
  • Critically evaluate each now job that you take on. Assure that you have the staff and infrastructure to meet client demands.
    • Always assure that you deliver on your company’s integrity, reputation and core values.
  • In addition to addressing immediate needs, look at long-term plans strategically. Ask where you will be in 10 years. Articulate this vision in detail, and drive plans down through the organization. Make sure that everyone is on the same page, aligned with the same values, aiming at the same targets.
  • Also differentiate your vision from your mission:
    • You vision is a 10 year time frame, not one year.
    • Your mission is what you will be doing this year and in 5 years – the activities you will undertake to realize your longer term vision.
    • Fine tune your vision and mission and drive these through the organization. This will give you clarity on how you wish to do business and will help you to make hard choices as you handle rapid growth.

Key Words: Growth, Rapid, Stress, Focus, Turnover, Forecast, Infrastructure, Training, Support, Values, Staff, Development, Skill, Plan, Align, Vision, Mission

How Do You Focus on Positive Responses to Stress? Ten Techniques

Interview with Janis Pullen, Transformational Coach

Situation: When we encounter stress, like financial, economic or business stress, we may respond positively and proactively or negatively. Negative responses include drinking, smoking and comfort eating which can damage our health. How do you focus on positive responses to stress?

Advice from Janis Pullen:

  • It is important to understand that there are two aspects to stress management – the ontological or being side and the facilitative or doing side. These are different but related.
  • When people experience stress they seek comfort in activities that they associate with relaxation. This includes alcohol, tobacco and eating. These reactions are automatic, habitual and predictable and can lead to unhealthy consequences.
  • Ontological techniques to counter habitual, automatic reactions and to positively respond to stressors include:
    • Recreate our relationship to time. In the US we are deadline oriented and multitask. These increase stress.
    • Arrive at meetings 5 minutes early so that we give ourselves time to get settled instead of entering the meeting in a rush.
    • Plan time for nothing – even a 5-minute break with no pressure to “do” anything increases ease and relaxation.
    • Become more aware of our needs and what we have to do to meet them. Often we are not in tune with our needs and operate on top of them. The positive alternative is to slow down, notice more of what is within and around us, and have the courage to fulfill our real, deeper needs.
    • Take responsibility. When we blame external causes for situations, we give up power and control. The alternative is to be “at cause” rather than “at effect” to produce constructive results.
    • Realize you are not alone.  Employ assistance/guidance/mentorship to lighten your load.
  • On the facilitative side, these practices can alleviate or reduce stress:
    • Simply take a few deep breaths when we become aware of stress. This increases blood oxygen, helps us to relax and cools our reaction.
    • Exercise – even a short walk – does wonders for changing moods from negative to positive. Under stress, the body releases cortisol and adrenalin – the fight or flight hormones. Exercise increases endorphins, which help us to relax and reduces cortisol and adrenalin levels.
    • Consciously eat whole versus processed foods and drink more water to help our bodies to function more efficiently and to respond more effectively to stress. Berries and nuts are much healthier snacks than sugar or other simple carbohydrates.
    • Sufficient sleep is critical to effective physical and mental function. Alcohol impairs sleep by reducing deep sleep cycles so we do not wake up refreshed.
  • The effective solution to stress is to focus on our real needs and to replace destructive behavior patterns with constructive alternatives.

You can contact Janis Pullen at Janis@CoachJanisPullen.com

Key Words: Stress, Response, Positive, Proactive, Negative, Alcohol, Tobacco, Eating, Food, Ontological, Facilitative, Comfort, Habit, Healthy, Unhealthy, Real Needs, Time Management, Deadline, Act, Control, Responsibility, Blame, Breath, Cortisol, Adrenalin, Endorphins, Whole Foods, Sugar, Carbohydrates, Focus

How Do You Take a Guilt-Free Vacation? Seven Suggestions

Situation: A CEO has not taken a vacation for years due to focus on the company. He knows that he needs a vacation and wants to take one. However, he feels guilty taking time off. How do you take a guilt-free vacation?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • For your general health, you need to take time off to refresh and recharge!
  • Think of the vacation as your CEO Test – have you created a team that can perform in your absence?
    • You may be amazed at the initiative that some will take given the freedom to do so. As a corollary, initiative is accompanied by risk and your employees may make some bad choices. Be patient. Congratulate them for taking initiative and coach to improve choices.
    • Stay out of touch. Don’t call in daily and see what happens. If and when you do call in, don’t solve challenges that come up – let your people solve the challenges. Keep a few notes. On your return see where you need to adjust procedures to allow employees to make independent decisions.
    • More than one CEO has found that taking 3-4 week vacations each year has had very positive results. The company actually performs more efficiently and with more energy upon their return than it did when they left!
  • To ensure that you take a vacation, schedule it in advance. Let everyone know that you are going to take it and Just Do It!
  • If you can’t take the time to plan a vacation, have your spouse or a loved one plan the vacation.
  • If you need to feel in touch during your vacation, take your laptop. You may never even use it, but it will be there as a security blanket. Once you are on vacation, let family and personal priorities rightly take precedence over your need to stay in touch.

Key Words: Vacation, Company, Focus, Guilt, Health, Refresh, Recharge, Initiative, Patience, Coach, Problems, Valuation, Performance, Planning, Priorities, Family, Stress, Support