Negative talk, doubt sets in, confidence declines, performance suffers…

Right now I’m in the middle of helping out (a bit) to get 130 seasonal retail stores open. Ninety of them have opened in the past two weeks and the rest will open within a few days. Everywhere I go I hear retailers complaining about how tough the sector is. Depending who you talk to, someone or something else is to blame for what is wrong. Government policy. Interest rates. Low consumer confidence. ‘Greedy’ landlords. Pressure from online retailers. The dog ate my homework, maybe?

The problem with negative talk is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Talking it down and generally being negative will eventually become reality. It will rub off on your staff and they will lower their performance expectations and blame the ‘market’ too. They’ll eventually switch off believing that nothing they do will make a difference. Declining sales and profits will become accepted because ‘it’s not our fault’. When that happens it’s all over and you may as well go and find something else to do.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t be realistic – just not negative. There’s a big difference. Negative is easy. ‘It’s not my fault. The market’s crap. We’re doing no worse than anyone else’ is just a cop out.  Sure it’s easy and convenient to blame someone (or something) else but it doesn’t overcome the challenges being faced OR help you get better.

Setting the right example with language and behaviour is a key requirement for all leaders. You want your people to show up motivated to make a difference. When times are tough this is even more important. To do this leaders must show confidence during difficult times and work hard to inspire their people that ‘all is ok’ and will improve if good decisions continue to be made.

So don’t throw your hands up in the air and complain how tough trading conditions are. Or play the blame game. Instead knuckle down. Get tough.  Be positive.  Solve problems and move forward. Every day. That’s what we all get paid to do. Not to make excuses…