16 Aug 2018

Business confidence down but not yours

Be careful what you believe about business confidence. Those beliefs could be holding you back.

Business confidence surveys reflect how confident managers are in general about economic prospects. But regardless of that collective view, you and your company can choose to follow a different path.

Being optimistic increases your chances of successfully navigating through stormy seas.

So what do optimistic companies look like? They:

  • are more externally focussed and place more emphasis on things they can influence. They spend more time pursuing growth opportunities, recruiting the right people, developing new skills and marketing their products and services. 
  • view failures as temporary setbacks they can learn from and quickly move onto the next opportunity.
  • take more well managed risks. When risks are identified and well managed they are in a better position to take advantage of opportunities and be market leaders. 
  • invest more in their people creating the right conditions for meaningful and rewarding work, leading to more engaged employees and better results. 
  • know when to ask for help where they lack expertise or contract out some activities so they can focus on what's most important to grow the business. 

In contrast, pessimistic companies:

  • are more concerned about driving down costs and worry more about things over which they have less control e.g. government policy, exchange rates.
  • slow down in difficult times, over-analysing what went wrong which can spiral downwards to become more cautious with each setback.
  • miss opportunities to take calculated risks that would help them move out of their current situation into a more stable financial position.
  • lack support mechanisms which would give a more balanced perspective, and do not have a road map for moving forwards. 

Optimistic companies attract optimistic people who fit with their culture and values.

Optimistic People

  • look on the brighter side and never give up. When adversity strikes they see this as a hiccup along the way and a challenge to work through. 
  • seek meaningful work and look for inspiration in all kinds of places to lead a purposeful life. 
  • regularly reflect on their achievements and what they are grateful for, which keeps them motivated and inspired. 
  • surround themselves with positive people and enjoy positive interactions with others who reinforce their self-worth. 
  • have good support systems in place for when the going gets tough - friends and family they trust who help them keep things in perspective
  • enjoy personal rewards from giving back to others and their community
  • are open to learning new things and trying different experiences.

On the other hand, pessimistic people are unaware of how their behaviour and attitudes influences themselves and others. They:

  • see the glass as half empty rather than half full 
  • always find reasons to discourage themselves and others from giving things a go 
  • allow disappointments and negative thinking to undermine their own achievements 
  • do not reach out for help when they most need it.

Optimism is something that can be learned and strengthened with practice. 

Individuals, teams and companies can learn new skills and develop more productive habits and processes which boost confidence and help them succeed.

Here are some steps you can take to rebuild optimism and surf above the waves of discontent.

  • Have a handy roadmap as a regular reminder of vision and goals and what to focus on.
  • Clear the decks (paperwork overflow, email overload) so you can focus on what's important. 
  • Keep a daily journal of progress, your achievements and things you are grateful for.
  • Understand what works best for you and design your day around your best times and ways you prefer to tackle the most important tasks.
  • Engage in creative thinking and action - try new things, build confidence and resilience and learn from these experiences. 
  • Play to your strengths so you can focus on meaningful work and delegate or employ others in areas where you lack abilities or interests.
  • Take time out often to reflect on what is working well and keep looking, listening, learning and moving forwards

Footnote: Business confidence forecasts do not always accurately predict what will happen to the future economy. Despite gloomy predictions in 2015 with falling dairy prices a boom in construction helped the economy to grow strongly. 




Mary Somervell

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