I'm left with a demoralised and demotivated team, and I'm scared they might defect too. However, I'm convinced that this year will be much better for the company. How can I persuade them that this is the case?
A: You sound as if you own this company, or have a substantial interest in it. If that's the case, you should put this fact to good use. Call your key people together and be open with them. Don't mince words. You've told me that your last year was terrible, so don't tell your team it was slightly disappointing. Tell them it was terrible.
You also say that you're convinced that the coming year will be much better. Is that just wishful thinking, or have you got solid grounds for that conviction? Either way - blind hope or order-based optimism - share it with them.
Then tell them that, as always, part of your joint destiny lies in their own hands. For this reason, for this coming year, you're going to institute a profit sharing, co-ownership plan. I can't recommend the detail because I don't know the nature of your company, but there's bound to be a way if you want to do it badly enough.
All this should buy you a year. I do hope it's a good one. The best of luck, anyway.
- Jeremy Bullmore has been creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London and a non-executive director of the both Guardian Media Group and WPP. Address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: email@example.com. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.