We’re five months from Brexit, the single biggest constitutional change in this country’s history, and business still doesn’t know exactly what the landscape looks like on the other side of 11pm on 29th March 2019.
Business likes certainty. It never turns up but some periods in time provide more or less of it. So how does a business prepare to deliver the best possible results during this period of uncertainty?
The core is around good, strategic decision making by senior leaders and ensuring that your management team is aware of, and capable of dealing with, the challenges that are to come. Senior management needs to be able to communicate very effectively through the management team.
Of course Brexit is a big deal. Of course uncertainty is a constant. However, the lack of direction, the unknown around the changes in threat or opportunity and the fear amongst staff create an unprecedented challenge for leaders and managers.
A VUCA world
The current situation is perfectly understood and described using VUCA thinking, and so senior management need to understand the landscape and be able to act accordingly.
V – Volatility
U – Uncertainty
C – Complexity
A – Ambiguity
First termed by US military, the thinking has become prevalent in senior management practice and is covered in Impellus senior management courses. Understanding how to develop strategy in these circumstances and make decisions accordingly keeps you nimble and allows you to make choices that best deliver the results you’re after during the period, whether financial or strategic.
What happens to your strategic direction at the single stroke of a tax change? A border deal? A trade deal with the US? Sudden changes in immigration policy? When will you know? Good strategists consider these challenges early.
Communication is the key
Brexit deal or no deal? What does that mean in your organisation to your employees? Their workloads? Their pay? Their very jobs?
Where there’s no communication, speculation takes over and this can create behavioural challenges that can range from loss of motivation to more aggressive leadership void issues.
One of the collective failings of management teams is that when senior management feels it has nothing to say, nothing gets said. A senior management team considering the implications of Brexit and the organisational challenges may not be able to make the changes or investments it wants now, but it needs to be communicating that effectively through its management team.
This explains the situations and challenges faced, and ensures the management team are equipped to deal with staff concerns and issues. Most importantly it helps to quell speculation and misguided thoughts and fears.
When it’s difficult to make decisions or plan effectively, or when trading conditions become more difficult, keeping the management team sharp provides a huge return on investment.
Often senior managers and leaders wear the number of recessions they’ve been through as badges of honour. Whether there’ll be a recession or not is difficult to predict, but times will be challenging for sure and will test managers.
How prepared are they? What efficiencies are they capable of producing? How much experience do they have? Will they be drawn into political brawls which serve no purpose other than to antagonise?
If your managers are capable leaders in their own right they’ll be able to interpret your strategic direction much more easily and will keep daily performance issues to a minimum during a time where you’d rather not have other issues on your plate.
‘Pulling together’ is always a challenge. Being able to clearly follow senior management lead during the challenges of Brexit will find them out if their leadership skills are lacking.
Every business and employer is affected by the issues around Brexit. It’s the number one concern we hear in the management training courses we’re running at the moment and it will definitely have its winners and losers.
One thing in business is always a certainty, though. Good leadership and management always wins through.