In this Is This Mic On? We tackle how to handle budget cuts (with a few dog puns here or there). Read on to hear what SNP had to say about transparency, collective intelligence, and mindset.
Dear Smart Nice Pups (or People),
Things are ruff right now. Our pack has been put on a doggy diet. The treats were gone a while ago (bonuses) and now we’re on half a scoop of kibble instead of the full scoop (budget cuts). We have to, do more with less. But, our plans haven’t changed. We still have the neighborhood cats to scare away (KPIs to hit), sticks to gather in the front yard (revenue to make), and holes to dig (challenges to solve).
As the leader of the pack, how do I break the news to them? And more importantly, how do we make do with what we’ve got?
Playing Ball on a Budget
Dear Playing Ball…
We’re going to put the pet puns aside for a minute, as this is a situation that can be terrier-fying. Ok, now, seriously, we’re putting them aside…
First: communicate everything, before, after and during.
Ideally, your team has been privy to what’s been going on in the company, with your customers, and in the macroeconomic climate. And how all of those levers affect one another. Health is not a secret. Your team – the company – needs to be trusted with the right information about the business. Now, of course, common sense prevails. Some of the most successful, innovative companies in the world are famous for their enigmatic approach to product development. This is not that. Share with your company what you can. For example, revenue against goal. And be honest. Your team can sniff out (it’s hard to shake the puns) nonsense.
If there has been transparency, honesty, there is not the same level of news to break. It’s not happy information, don’t get us wrong. Bonuses are more fun to communicate than budget cuts. But it is not so much a surprise. Your team has been a part of the context. And perhaps are even at a point where they seek leadership to make a decision that changes the course of the numbers that they do see. After all, most people understand that you have to make more money than you spend.
Now, include them in the solution.
We’ve talked about this before. The idea that managers often feel/think that they need to have all of the answers. They need to present the problem AND present the exactly-perfect solution. That’s nuts. And quite honestly, it doesn’t honor the creativity, smarts, and innovation that lives within your team. Ask them. Encourage them to be part of the solution. In your case, some of the decision has already been made – budget cuts. How to operate within this new environment – that can be for collective intelligence. So I say again: ask them.
With change and challenge comes opportunity. A time to re-prioritize or re-think. Get everything organized onto a dashboard––what is critical, what is necessary, and what is a nice-to-have. Maybe there are nice-to-have projects that can be officially put on paws (sorry) for the time being, creating a bit more room for some of the critical and the necessary. Focus on focus. And then ask your team what they don’t want to lose. What they want to work on. Maybe some of those nice-to-have projects – new products, new processes, new content – are actually passion projects that create energy. Let your team decide to put them back on the docket, and decide how to get them done.
Attitude, behavior, mindset. Get yours right. If you go into every conversation with your team apologetically, with a sense of burden and weight…that creates the culture. Approach conversations with empathy. Be ready to listen. And approach this next period of time with a sense of heliotropic optimism. Not delusion, optimism. Your team wants to see that you understand the challenge presented, and will model how you choose to operate within it.
Handle budget cuts right to stay high-performing
You’re part of a high-performing pack (the puns are clawing their way back). This is a point in time, and you’re doing more than simply making do. Trust your team and communicate, clearly lay out the decisions, listen, and then invite them to be a part of the solution. Keep your focus pawsitive and don’t go to the bark side (oh no). Success is not far-fetched here.
We gotta go, this is getting paw-ful..
Want to dive deeper into how to approach budget cuts for your specific situation? Read more about the benefits of 1:1 coaching and reach out to us.