During unplanned timeouts in business, the very best companies and ultra-high performers embrace that gift of  time and leverage it as much as possible.

There are some excellent anecdotes concerning the value of leveraging unplanned time wisely.  When the kitchen slows down, it’s time to sharpen the knives.

When life gives you lemons, learn how to juggle. If a crash happens on the track, forcing you to make a pitstop, use that time to make your race car faster.

There are many others, but their message is the same: Use unplanned time quickly and wisely.

And being obsessed with time management like they are, that’s exactly what ultra-higher performers and the best companies’ leaders do.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of coaching my competitive soccer team against one of the top ranked teams in the state.

We went into it with one objective: Leave it all on the field.

Success to us was making the other team having to earn anything they took while we leveraged that match to become an even better team.

Success was about evolving as players and as a team (and that definitely happened). But something amazing happened during that game that, at the time, I had no idea would impact my professional life so profoundly.

In an unfortunate play, one of my players was injured and was down on the field. The center ref blew the whistle and ushered me to come out to inspect the injury.

While I was jogging toward the player, the other team did something amazing. They all ran to their sideline to be near their coach and began to stretch while he issued some opportune, tactical advice.

Soccer, like life, doesn’t give you many timeouts, but when you get them, the best teams and companies use them immediately and wisely.

Yes, that team played soccer really well, but their real power stemmed from characteristics much bigger than technical soccer skills.

During unplanned timeouts in business, the very best companies and ultra-high performers embrace that gift of  time and leverage it as much as possible.

During the onset of the Corona pandemic, many companies felt like they were forced to get into a prone position and issue an all-stop.

Some of them may have been justified in that – but for many others, it was a choice.

The best companies began to use the time to sharpen their knives, learn how to juggle, and found time to help others.

They essentially doubled down, innovated prospecting efforts, marketed, learned new ways to work, and invested in themselves.

Meanwhile, their competitors were cutting costs, furloughing, and telling salespeople to “stand down.”

The wise companies use unplanned pit stops to get the race car ready to win; they slowed down to speed up.

Here are Four Ways the Best Companies Leverage the Gift of Unplanned Time:

  1. Execute on projects that they haven’t had the time to do previously.

    When unplanned time lands on their doorsteps, we get calls from clients that want to pivot to projects that they just hadn’t had time to deal with before. These projects range from creating comprehensive sales playbooks and multi-touch pursuit plans to implementing new CRMs and complete sales onboarding systems. They want to be more ready to run fast when the race started again; they want to take advantage of this gift of time to make their companies even better.

  2. Invest in their people through training and development programs.

    “When you’re given an occasional time out, use it to make your team even more ready for the next play,” said a client’s CEO.  When life gifts you time you didn’t ask for, the very best companies leverage some of it to train and develop their staff. It’s commonly accepted that it’s much more expensive to re-recruit and retrain staff than it is to simply retain them, so if at all possible, keeping and enhancing the staff they have is the ideal outcome for everyone. Making sure that their employees are even more prepared for the race to resume is paramount.

  3. Enhance their culture and team spirit.

    Great companies are always monitoring team spirit and culture, and their core values are consistently apparent in everything that they do. However, when there is an injection of unplanned time because of unfortunate events or economic downturns, there must be a concerted effort to protect morale and culture. It’s natural for people to worry about their jobs, their benefits, and their careers when things aren’t looking so bright, and the very best companies immediately turn in to protect and enhance their cultures. They purposefully create strength by making employees feel protected and valued. They embrace the challenges as an entire company and make everyone feel like they’re an important part of the solution.

  4. Make concerted efforts to help their communities.

    I saw some wonderful things happen when the Corona Pandemic hit the US economy. My favorite was watching how companies that were hit hardest leveraged their staff to help their clients and communities. Instead of turning away, they allocated resources to help those in need. Instead of allowing employees to worry and wonder, they used the gift of time to instill a meaningful sense of purpose. They were “Go Givers.” This country has a wonderful history of doing things like this, and although it’s unfortunate that it becomes most apparent when times are tough, it’s a wonderful way to see a how real and beautiful a company’s spirit really is.

About the author

Jason Eatmon

Jason is a Nebraska native which is where his work ethic and sense of…

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