Leading Through A Crisis
Over the last few weeks we've discussed the importance of being ready for things that can happen to your business. We've looked at identifying those events, discussed why you need to be prepared, and the importance of problem solving. This week our focus is on you as a leader, because when things happen to your business it's not just you that is impacted.
Your employees, your clients, and perhaps even your vendors are impacted by the way you choose to react to the situation. People react to change differently and often times it's not a positive reaction. There needs to be someone ready to steer the boat when the waves hit. That someone is you. As we discussed in the first insight this month, we understand the need to react to situations privately. It's your business and it can be frightening when something happens to it/you, but in a crisis your team and your clients need to see you as a strong, confident leader.
- Paint the Picture - When something happens to your business you need to paint the picture of what is going to happen. Your teams will take cues from your tone, your words, and your actions. Determine as soon as you can the best way to position the situation at hand and who needs to know. Be clear, you don't have to have a solution at this stage. In fact, often times, you won't have a solution immediately. What you do need to do is to communicate with your team and set the tone for how you want them to view the situation.
Tip: Ignoring the situation or trying to deal with it without your team knowing can lead to more headaches. Small businesses are often a lot like small towns, where everyone knows and is talking about what is happening. The danger is that they may not have the whole story or a productive point of view.
- Understand Different Points of View - Your team will not always have immediate buy-in even with you painting the picture. Sometimes they might need time to adjust and to think through the changes. There are even times that your team might feel "wronged" or disagree completely with a situation. For instance, with the new overtime laws, employees who will now be eligible for overtime might feel as if they have been shorted in the past. Using the same example, your staff might be excited about new overtime laws, which might bump their pay, while you're trying to figure out how to make the new laws work in your business. Just remember to never expect your team to see a situation exactly the way you do.
Tip: Don't make your communication one and done. Paint the picture, give your team time to adjust, and then make sure you follow up with them. The follow up can be done in a group, but if your team is far from adapting the point of view that your business needs you might want to schedule individual times as needed.
- Take Time to Understand - Rushing to a solution often leads to more problems down the road. Take the time to understand the situation, identify the result you need, and get clear about the steps that will enable you to achieve the result you need. We understand that there is a balance here. Sometimes you HAVE to act immediately. For instance, if a natural disaster hits you will have to take swift action. Even then though, it helps if you take a few moments to prepare.
Tip: When things happen to your business it is often an emotional situation making it more difficult to plan even when you take time to do so. We recommend having a problem-solving technique that you can fall back on using, as we discussed last week.
Overall, when something happens to your business it's important to remember that no matter what it is, your business and your team needs you to be a strong leader. Join us next week, as we wrap up the series with a list of great resources for being prepared when something happens to your business.