While speaking with a friend who is searching for a job, he told me he feels invisible. A former executive in the technology industry, he's having a tough time getting an interview, not to mention finding work. The techniques he once used to generate energy and interviews are getting him nowhere.
It's not him. It's the economy. With millions searching for employment, the current job market has sparks igniting here and there, but it remains extremely challenging. Sound familiar? The boating market isn't much different.
How do you, the manager, excite and ignite your marine business, hang on through market melancholy and find success? For starters, similar to my job-seeking friend, your actions need to generate positive energy every day. You cannot be an invisible manager who is passively working to survive but failing to produce ongoing activity and excitement across your organization. Instead of being the invisible manager, you need to become the invincible manager.
Impossible? Not necessarily. Yes, it's rough out there, but the market is beginning to produce intermittent bright spots, which is a good sign, if not a slowly evolving trend. In October, an Associated Press story indicated that economists are predicting an increase in consumer holiday spending this year, about 3 percent more than last year, bringing holiday spending close to levels achieved in 2006 - a nice little spark.
Let's talk about several things you can do to hang in there, stay positive and even become somewhat invincible as the market recovery continues to plod along.
1. Energize your management attitude. As a manager, you set the tone for your business. Yes, it's true - put on your letter sweater and grab a megaphone. You constantly need to be your business's cheerleader. This means that whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, you're responsible for keeping your team upbeat, energized and engaged. All managers who consistently succeed have this positive effervescence.
2. From an energy sense, invincible managers work hard, believe they're going to win in the marketplace, and share this sensation daily in the direct and subtle ways that they speak and otherwise interact with employees. The outcome is affirming and encouraging. Energy attracts energy and the resulting business helps spawn more business. Hanging on and staying positive is a strength in itself. If you're not staying positive, pump it up and get hip on hype. Actively seek ways to build confidence and optimism in your group while driving revenue in the door. Lack imagination to get this done? Consider the eternal wisdom of Norman Vincent Peale in his book "The Power of Positive Thinking." Also try "Beyond Positive Thinking: A No-Nonsense Formula for Getting the Results You Want," by Robert Anthony and Joe Vitale.
3. Excite your internal talent. Actively tap your internal bench strength as part of your management efforts to keep the tone upbeat. Brainstorm with employees on unused skills they can push, as well as talents they can grow to make your business or group more successful. Take advantage of employee versatility by challenging and rewarding them to find ways to cut costs, reduce waste, be more productive and cultivate sales. Look around and consider who is ready to move up and potentially be groomed as a future leader. Promote changing the status quo to juice creative thinking. This means "yes men" need not apply. While generating excitement across your team, encourage idea-sharing for new marketing programs and other customer-focused actions for gaining revenue. Dump lethargic thoughts and keep an overall busy pace in motion.
4. As you drum up management excitement within your business, you'll want to make sure you ignite your market visibility as well. When was the last time you overhauled your market plan? Dust off marketing essentials by casting a bright spotlight on your target customers, market drivers, competitors, market strategy and tactics. Do these jewels for success look shiny or dull? Not sure what to do? Consider hiring a marketing consultant for an infusion of fresh ideas. Include the market promotion thoughts you developed with your team. Kick in social networking on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Update website content and refresh advertising as part of managing your approach to ignite market visibility. Likewise, watch what competitors or other businesses are doing to revitalize market visibility and consider jumping on the bandwagon.
5. Keep your management energy flowing and your cheerleading voltage high by regularly collaborating with others in the industry. This includes ongoing contact with customers, professional peers, other departments in large organizations, manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, partners, complementary companies and industry groups, trade publications, trade associations and whoever else touches your business and your group. Each of these entities has a slightly different view of the market, how they weathered what's behind them, how they view what may be coming around the corner, and great ideas they have brewing. Grab your megaphone and indicate your willingness to help promote industry stamina. Engaging others produces big returns in the form of valued insights and relationships, providing mutual benefits to all involved.
6. Network with enthusiasm and purpose. Collaborating with others in the industry is smart; general networking is smart, too. Networking means different things to different people, but for you, the manager, it means staying in touch with the market on a broad level by yakking it up with all kinds of people. Networking options include homeowners associations; high school and college alumni; military groups for veterans; your local Chamber of Commerce; Toastmasters to improve your speaking skills; service clubs such as Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis; church groups; bowling and basketball leagues; bridge clubs; and many more. Your enthusiastic involvement in networking groups keeps your business front of mind across many sectors. Beyond industry collaboration, networking helps you stay in touch, pursue a passion, learn and give back. If you're not aware of local networking groups, try Googling "meet up groups" with your city name and explore the results. The Web is wild with meet-up alternatives ranging from power walkers to people watchers. Pick an interest and go forth with enthusiasm and purpose.
Back to my job-seeking friend. He soon realized that everyone searching for work feels alone and invisible at times. The solution is to keep going, energize resources, engage others, work hard at finding work and network like crazy to stay incredibly connected - if not invincible. Your goals as an invincible manager in a slow-moving market are comparable. Avoid being invisible by exciting and igniting your business, your team and your "get noticed" approach in the industry and marketplace.
You'll quickly find that being a highly visible manager produces more success, boosts morale and is a lot more fun than sitting on the sidelines - exactly the results you want from a cheerleader who also happens to be a great manager.
Mary Elston has spent more than 20 years in management in the transportation, consulting and technology industries. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and author of the book, "Master Your Middle Management Universe, How to Succeed with Moga Moga Management Using 3 Easy Steps." Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue.