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Why you shouldn’t pull your punch in business

This is probablyunderstood by everybody but in practice the ability to recognise a problem early in itsdevelopment and then have the courage to take immediate and full corrective action is askill that needs to be learnt by most managers. Unfortunately the learning process is oftenlittered with mistakes and painful lessons along the way. This article looks briefly at three areas where early, decisive action is vital; employment, negotiation and strategic change.

One of the most challenging areas of being an employer is undoubtedly that of staffdismissal particularly when the reason is one of poor performance and where the employeeis simply in the wrong job. This happens in organisations of any size and can occur for manyreasons. It may be that the individual was badly recruited at the outset or that the demandsof the job have changed since his/her appointment therefore leaving them exposed.

In suchcircumstances both employer and employee are often unhappy and furthermore tensiondevelops that exacerbates the problem. It is often clear to all that moving the personconcerned to another job more suited to them would be best and will allow the company torecruit an alternate who should fare better. Such clear analysis however does not meanthat the decision is at all easy because the process is difficult and often extremely stressfulfor both the employee and the line manager. It is because of this that often action isdelayed which makes the inevitable call much more difficult.

In organisations where professional HR teams operate, regular performance reviews canhelp to alleviate the situation because both parties have more time to identify the problemAnd consider possible options. Moreover, when the time arrives employers should alwayslook under such circumstances to soften the exit process with golden goodbye payments ontop of notice and where possible by offering assistance with training for example to aid thetransition to the next employer.

Read more about facing challenges:

“Pulling your punch” in the context of negotiation is related to not asking for the bestpossible price for your product or service or by accepting overly difficult conditions from theother party. I dealt with the art of negotiation in a previous post and mentioned at the timethat perhaps some nationalities suffer from not wanting to be perceived as rude, which maylimit the degree to which they are prepared to push it in a discussion. It is nearly alwaysclear what one should ask for (particularly because you have researched your opponentsbusiness prior to the negotiation to define the limits) but sometimes that voice inside yourhead urges caution and you fall short.

In such situations you will then spend months if notyears regretting the mistake. Smart people learn the lesson and pitch higher next timeAround.

Perhaps the most critical role of management is to plan and run the corporate strategy. Strategy is fluid and must respond to events. A plan makes assumptions about the businessAnd competitor environments which by their very nature can and do change and a companymust be able to recognise the changes and correct course accordingly. Where thecorrection is minor it should be no problem but sometimes drastic action is called for andthis is where punches may be pulled.

There are numerous examples where companies havemade radical course corrections sometimes redefining the essence of their businesses. More typically however, management may need to pull out of a number of territories andfocus on core markets or specialise in a more limited range of products. Each decision willhave implications for staff and/or the external perception of the company but if it isstrategically right to do then the team should act, act fast and go all the way. It is often saidthat the best strategic changes feel “too early” at the time.

“Leaders have to do their homework then react early and firmly they must not be halfhearted”, saidPeter Lorange of the Lorange Institute of Business.

Another article from Low reveals how with most clichs there is an element of truth. The saying is valid in all aspects of life, and is also applicable in business.

Andrew Low, who has 26 years in the Agri-business sector,is managing director of JE InvestAnd the ownerof

Image: Shutterstock




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