From co-workers to Family

I was recently at our Christmas dinner for one of our companies. During this time of the year you normally do two things, you eat a lot and you also tend to reflect over the past year. My company operates in Angola and as many people know Angola has been in a financial crisis for a few years now. This has made it quite difficult to operate and unfortunately this crisis doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.

It’s always easy to operate during the boom and plentiful times but it’s much harder when times are tough and resources are scarce. It’s easy to operate when sentiment is positive but very difficult to just survive when mentalities and feelings are negative. That’s why they say that the tough get going when the shit hits the fan and the shit has been flying the last few years.

Nevertheless, I am proud to say that our business is safe and continues to strengthen and this is thanks considerably to our staff. Right from our CEO to our ground staff it’s been a huge team effort to slash costs and become more resourceful in order to ensure not just our survival but also preparing for future success. The message of pain and sacrifice was delivered by example from the top and it was understood and transmitted all the way to the bottom. We watched as many of our competitors and clients folded one by one almost monthly as they took too long to adapt or where unable to understand this new reality. Many were to comfortable or had too many bad habits or were just not willing to make the difficult calls and sacrifices needed to be able to fight another day. It’s tough to embrace change, it’s not easy to down scale and it’s even more difficult when you don’t do it in a top down manner. You will not succeed or obtain engagement from all the players if it doesn’t start from the top.

I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy, we weren’t brilliant by setting out a strategic plan to follow, no, we made mistakes and yes we disappointed and hurt some people and egos along the way. We said NO more often and asked for payments continuously as cash flow was King and free riders were let go. I looked after the top management and they looked after the middle management and in turn they looked after all the others. We looked after each other and we worked for each other, soon we were tighter and stronger than when the crisis began. We started as colleagues but now we were family, with a single focus and a common vision to get through this and become stronger and better than ever before.

The process that had started with fear as we had slashed costs had quickly turned stable as we consolidated with all the remaining staff. It was important to quickly let go of the excess in order to focus on the core and on the task at hand.

The atmosphere quickly improved as we all understood that we were in this together and needed to combine our talents if we wished to flourish. We worked hard and still played hard but we were now a family with a common goal and united going forward. From top to bottom anyone who didn’t pull his weight would quickly get off, the business now resembled a mean and lean kick ass machine.

We created more synergies and focused further on clients, as if our lives depended on them and the truth be told, it did. We cried, laughed, worried and hoped always together as we knew we were stronger as one.

This dinner has shown me how far we have come, and yes, there are still more difficulties ahead no doubt. It has however also shown me that we are no longer anxious as we have adapted and still adapting further to overcome these challenges. It makes me sad to see us loose our colleagues along the way as we say goodbye to some forever or just see you later to others. It’s not easy to see our family go but still we don’t have the luxury to get too comfortable as that would be dangerous.

I thank you for all your commitment, I am so proud of you all and know our family is strong and united for the road ahead.

As I see the other markets we’re involved in, I think to myself how soon till we do it all over again to another company in another country? What is comfortable now can become challenging tomorrow. It’s time to get prepared by shedding the excess and start choosing your family as once again only those who adapt will survive.

From colleagues to family what a privilege it’s been to play a role in the story.

this article was posted at link to leaders, 10/01/2020.

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