TELL IT LIKE IT IS

by Matt Thomas

I spent two years working for one of the largest privately-held home builders in the country. I took the job with this company because of their reputation for exceptional in-house training and robust customer service model; not because I knew anything about building or selling production homes. In one of the many training workshops I went through during my time with this company my favorite executive hammered home three words I’ll never forget, “Bad News Fast.” He shared this nugget inside the context of customer experience but I watched it permeate our internal culture and operations. The result? Employees always knew where they stood. The only team members who carried anxiety were low performers or poor culture fits. In truth, they should have been anxious.

Over the past few days I’ve spoken with business owners who have lost everything, more who have had to get as lean as possible, and some who are well-positioned to flourish in times like these. After discussing the health of their businesses the thing I have been most curious about is how they are communicating with their employees.

Over the past few days I’ve spoken with business owners who have lost everything, more who have had to get as lean as possible, and some who are well-positioned to flourish in times like these. After discussing the health of their businesses the thing I have been most curious about is how they are communicating with their employees. I was surprised that many feel that it is their job as the Owner/CEO/Founder/President/etc. to shield their people from the depth of the difficulties their organization is facing. I get the importance of being on the front lines with your people, but going into battle with your people is a whole lot different than going out to face an army on your own. What an impossible burden to carry.

I actually believe that those who feel they can’t be honest with their team members right now are doing their people a disservice. Are there difficult stretches in our businesses where we should carry the majority of the stress or uncertainty and protect our people from it in order to ensure they can work uninterrupted? Absolutely! Now is not one of those times. If you were to poll your people asking them to name the primary driver of negative emotion in their life right now I would put my money on uncertainty being in the majority. I realize everyone has become an expert overnight on all things pandemic, stock market, policy, etc. but the simple truth is that there is a ton we just don’t know. It is imperative that leaders are as transparent and direct as possible the whole way through this deal. Our people are adults and we should treat them like it. This is a simple way to honor the intrinsic human dignity each of our employees possesses.

I realize everyone has become an expert overnight on all things pandemic, stock market, policy, etc. but the simple truth is that there is a ton we just don’t know. It is imperative that leaders are as transparent and direct as possible the whole way through this deal.

The impact of Covid-19 and its effect on our global economy touches everyone in some way. At Core Ventures we’ve taken a few hits but thankfully nothing close to apocalyptic. We haven’t cut any team members, including the new hires we made just a few weeks ago. But in an effort to keep everyone in the loop we’ve been as clear as possible about where things stand and what we will do about it. Below is an excerpt from an internal memo that I sent out to our whole team on slack yesterday. Hopefully it gives you a small glimpse into how we are navigating the turbulence.

With all the uncertainty I want to be crystal clear about a few things that I can guarantee:

1. We will be as transparent and direct as possible the whole way through. If you have questions or concerns you can call me at any time day or night.

2. I have a high risk tolerance so take this with a grain of salt but there is no fear in me right now. Uncertainty, sure, but I’m confident in our business model, our resolve, and ultimately that God is good. How his goodness and the life and health of CV intersect I don’t know, but I trust him all the way. He’s been abundantly faithful in times much more desperate than these.

3. The best you can do is the best you can do and I trust each of you 100%. Traditional metrics for performance don’t play right now with so many variables, but I can’t tell you how easy it is to go to sleep confident that each of you is doing everything you can to serve our clients well. What a gift.

4. If our team shrinks and we have to make cuts, getting our team back together will be my top priority. I left our training two weeks ago over the moon excited about who we have in the mix. Y’all are top notch and I’m grateful to have you on board.

Finally, I’m going to be reaching out to each of you individually this week prior to our Thursday call to check in, get a pulse on how you are feeling, and answer any questions you may have. If you need anything prior to my call don’t hesitate to reach out.

Love y’all!

Leaders, I hope you hold fast, think clearly, and act rightly. Tell it like it is. Times like this are a reminder that we really only have so much control over our businesses. I’m rooting for you and pray you love and lead your people well in the coming days, weeks, and months.