Every organization has an event that occurs every year, if not more frequently, that is out of the normal scope of daily business. Yet somehow managers are taken by surprise, even though it happens every year at the same time.

They RE-ACT, rather than PRE-ACT.

solving the mystery of the black friday surprise

I met a woman in a leadership development workshop I was teaching, we’ll call her ‘M’, who is the mailroom manager at a large metropolitan newspaper. It was the day before Thanksgiving. As you know, Thanksgiving comes around on the fourth Thursday of November. Every. Single. Year. And every year, without fail, Black Friday follows Thanksgiving.

For many newspapers, the busiest day of the year is the Wednesday evening the day before Thanksgiving. Why? Because the Black Friday advertisements are printed and inserted into the Thanksgiving edition of the paper.

Every year the newspaper M works at experiences staffing shortages on Wednesday evening because so many people call out. Somehow this regular occurrence always came as a surprise and left the management team scrambling. Until M came along. M is a PRE-ACTIVE leader. Instead of waiting until the event occurred and reacting to it, M thought ahead and took steps to minimize the impact of this known issue.

How did she do it? She brainstormed ideas for reducing the number of callouts. One idea she implemented was to let the employees create their own work teams. She gave everyone color-coded wristbands and they selected the people they wanted to work with. The accountability level drastically increased. She also included some of basic motivators like giveaways and food.

Did it work? Yes. At 3pm on the Wednesday before the busiest night of the year she had only received one callout compared to 20 callouts at the same time the year before.

Are your managers re-acting or pre-acting to the events that come around on a regular basis? If they are re-acting, it is costing money, time, and valuable resources. Get them the training they need to be problem solvers so they can see the issues and take action to minimize the impact and keep business flowing smoothly.

The Case of the Black Friday Surprise
Tagged on: