Three minutes… Did you know that NFL players prepare countless hours each week to play, on average, for only three minutes per game? All of the preparation, the dedication, and focus for only three minutes of game time. This is the professional mindset. Many of the companies I consult with have somewhat seasonal businesses, and this is common in many market sectors. One of the issues they deal with is keeping people motivated and focused when the workload decreases.
“We only have two sales presentations the next few weeks because of the holiday period” or “our production schedule is expected to slow this month by 40%”, followed by “how do I keep my team engaged?”
Professionals can maintain focus and discipline even during the slower periods, and in fact they can utilize this time to get better. Slower periods provide the following opportunities:
Focusing on implementing and practicing new behaviors that need to be executed during the busy times. They must become natural responses from trained behavior when the pressure is on. That’s why great catches are made by NFL receivers, because they have made them in practice countless times, it becomes their natural reaction. But they don’t have an “off season” or slow season, they train, prepare and invest for those critical three minutes.
Many cultures slow their cadence and the work spreads over a longer period of time, but no effort is made by leaders or managers to drive their people to higher standards. This is the time to put more effort into fewer jobs or clients you have, increasing the quality of each transaction. Invest in sales training by practicing presentations and tightening processes, and paperwork. Invest in developing leadership practices for your managers.
A slow down in work does not have to translate to a slow down in intensity. Leaders and managers must make the team better in slow times by focusing more energy on the work that is being produced.
So get your game face on and hold people to a higher standard during slow periods, invest in and increase the coaching and training time. Use the excess capacity of time, not to slow the cadence of workflow but to invest in better behaviors and practices by everyone on the team, including yourself.