In a world of swirling regulations, opposing forces of needs versus budgets and increasingly pressing deadlines, it is far too common to get caught up in the tornado that is our everyday work. Generally, when a tornado comes the best plan is to get out of its way. When that is not possible and the tornado takes hold, our survival instincts immediately look for a way out. I am here to propose a better plan. Think about it. What happens as you move towards the edges of a tornado? The winds move faster and faster and eventual you get flung out in an unexpected direction. Often this causes great harm to you and/or anyone or anything near the tornado. If you stay in the swirl of the tornado, the vortex may steal your breath away and items within the storm may catch you unaware. Since we know that escaping a tornado is a recipe for disaster and being tossed about is also a great risk, we should aim for a completely different plan.
When caught up in a cyclone of work and accountability, I suggest that you move quickly to the eye of the storm. The idea may be terrifying and opposite of your instincts, but the eye of a storm is calm and focused. You can operate from the eye while reaching out plucking from the melee those things that you absolutely must get done. You can focus on critical tasks and let the storm rage around you until, like it always does, it calms down and fades away.
An Executive Compensation Tornado
Year-end is approaching. The company just hired a new CEO, and at the same time the Board has brought in a new compensation consultant. A month ago your company announced that it would be acquiring a major competitor that has operations almost exclusively in countries where you don’t. The performance equity plan from three years ago will pay out at around 75% at the end of the year and the system you use only partially supports this transaction. Since the end of the last quarter you have had changes in three of your top five institutional investors. At least one of them uses an evaluation methodology you are not yet familiar with. On top of everything else you have been told that your HRIS system is going into lockdown for 6 months for an upgrade. Inevitably, the IRS has just rolled out another of its “almost year-end” rule clarifications. Have I mentioned your compensation analyst is out on maternity leave and the SVP of HR is going through their first year-end at your company? The tornado is almost upon you (again), what will you do?
Remind yourself of your priorities.
Focus on your priorities while reaching out to those around you for assistance.
Get the key items done while keeping an eye on the lower priority items. In short, do the most important things well, rather than doing everything poorly.
As we move into the final quarter of the year and prepare for the maelstrom that is typically called year-end, it is important to have a strategy to come out the other side as unscathed as possible, while still fulfilling the necessities of your position. Of course, afterward there will be a great mess to clean up. The difference is you will be able to address the mess instead of being part of it.