About Shawn: Shawn Rhodes leveraged his former life as a war correspondent to become an international expert in how the best teams pivot when change enters their plans. He’s a Tampa-based TEDx speaker and his work studying teams in more than two dozen countries – some the most dangerous places on the planet – has been published in news outlets around the world including TIME, CNN, NBC, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and INC. His clients have included Deloitte, ConAgra, Coca-Cola and dozens of similar businesses. Shawn is also a nationally-syndicated columnist with the Business Journals and author of the new book “Pivot Point: Turn On A Dime Without Sacrificing Results.”
As a follow-up to our previous article on surviving, VMA knows many of its members are looking at ways to thrive in a post-COVID world. Because we’re stepping into a new environment, this is going to mean resetting our ideas of success and often resetting the ways we used to find it in our industry. It’s going to be a difficult transition for everyone – but your leaders at VMA realize that the ones of us who embrace this new environment will be the ones who not only make it through this tough time, but thrive in the future we’re all stepping into.
In the world of tough jobs, few are tougher than that of a Marine Corps sniper. These teams lay still in the mud or crouch in sweltering attics for days, waiting for targets often more than a mile away.
As part of my work studying teams who thrived in challenging environments, I accompanied sniper teams during their combat deployments, and the lessons they taught me about performance apply as much to thriving in a post-COVID world as they do for putting rounds on target.
- You can’t hit what you can’t see
Night or day, whether covering the advance of troops or looking for a particular bad guy, the snipers I lived alongside were always crystal clear on what their targets did – and didn’t – look like.
Yet many of us are sending out our teams today with vague objectives like “Get in touch with new customers to reclaim lost sales” or “move to a virtual delivery format” and wonder why our folks aren’t excelling? Like snipers, ensure everyone is clear about what your service offering looks like in the ‘new normal’ of a post-COVID world.
- Bring the right gear – and know how to use it
The first time I accompanied snipers, they threw all my extra gear into the dirt. Soon, I was only bringing a rifle, ammunition, water and socks. These sharpshooters knew exactly what they would need and didn’t waste energy carrying junk.
Someone showing up to a client meeting on Zoom and then spending time finding charts, getting their laptop working correctly or struggling to turn their mic on doesn’t project the image of an elite professional. When reconnecting with clients and meeting new ones virtually, decide what resources you and your team will need to get the job done beforehand. Whether it’s a piece of technology, reference manual or slide deck, ensure you and your team have what they need and know how to use it.
- Recon your target
A sniper’s job doesn’t start behind a rifle – it begins weeks beforehand. Snipers spend hours before their missions poring over maps and re-checking intelligence on their targets.
Success in a post-COVID world will depend on up-to-date information, so ensure you regularly update your team on the intelligence they’ll need to be successful when doing their jobs in a new environment. Snipers’ lives depend on having good intelligence; the thriving in a post-COVID world is no different.
- Never go alone
Although a “shooter” might have the more glamorous job, there was no way they could accomplish the mission alone. Each “shooter” had a “spotter,” someone responsible for helping them identify targets, account for wind and distance, and keep an eye on the environment so the “shooter” could focus on taking the shot.
Whether your teams work individually, in pairs or as a group, make sure folks know how to get support virtually when they need it. It will give them the confidence they’ll need to hit their targets, whether those targets are revenue or customer-service oriented.
- Success isn’t static
While in Iraq, I interviewed a sniper who held the record for the farthest successful shot. Although at the top of his game, he continued to practice, stay in shape, and attend intelligence briefings. He knew success wasn’t static. To continue to perform at a high level and support his teammates, he kept doing what made him successful in the first place. Our post-COVID business world is no different.
Are you encouraging your high-performers to mentor others and continue their professional education by scheduling virtual meetings between each other and yourself? As VMA knows, your best people can help raise the bar for everyone, and you can ensure they continue to raise the bar for themselves as well.
More about Shawn and his work with companies in navigating change can be found at www.shoshinconsulting.com