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How many casualties did your crisis cause?

Congratulations! You own a business! You are the boss and you are a person of action.  You are successful.  You have a strong team of associates that help you run your business and you are diligent about staying focused on the 5 Keys that Build Value in your business.  But you have this nagging feeling that the business is not as efficient/effective/profitable as it could be.  Your business is moving forward, but it does so in fits and starts.  There is not the traction you want. You are not quite sure what the cause is, but you know things are just not clicking.

Before you jump on your team, look at yourself.  Every business is faced with challenges large and small, long-term and immediate.  HOW ARE YOU DEALING WITH THOSE CHALLENGES?  Does every customer issue or system glitch rise to the level of-Stop the presses, let’s get this fixed! NOW!

As the owner or CEO, as leader of your company you set the tone.  You set the priorities.  This is done partially through your words, but mostly through your actions. Ask yourself –

  • Have I assembled a solid leadership team and do I let them lead, or do I intercede on every decision – large or small?
  • How do I communicate when there are glitches in the businesses operating systems? Am I calm, working with team to resolve the issue within the constructs of processes that are already in place? Or do you rush in as if your hair were on fire?
  • As I am presented with a problem, what are my facial expressions saying? What is my body language saying? What is the tone of my voice?

Remember as leader you set the tone.  Your reactions are instrumental to determining whether you are fixing a business issue or creating a crisis.  Some points to follow the next time you are faced with a problem that is affecting your business:

  1. SCALE:  How serious is the situation? Will it bankrupt the business or destroy your hard earned reputation?
  2. SYSTEMS: Are there business systems and human resources to resolve the issue? Was it merely a mistake or was it evidence that the system needs to be overhauled?
  3. SOLUTIONS:  Seek a solution, not just an answer.  Do not worry about who is a fault, rather there is solution that is lasting.
  4. VOLUME: What is my team hearing?  Do they hear calm and pragmatic or do they hear a siren blaring FIX IT NOW!

Every time there is a “crisis”, there is opportunity lost.  People are pulled from their regular jobs. The normal flow of business is interrupted leaving the possibility of even more errors.  There is an emotional cost to the organization as well.  If your reaction to a problem is always hard charging, get the answers now.  You have to ask yourself, what is the cost, in terms of ongoing business operations or staff sanity?  After the “crisis” is over, look in the rearview mirror and see how many casualties were left behind by the frenetic effort to resolve the situation.  Stay calm, trust in your team, and work towards solutions and you will find business challenges will be easier and quicker to resolve.

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"This quick, thorough read is designed to help any sized owner or entrepreneur improve their business and its chances for survival in today’s tough economy." – Dr. Benjamin Ola Akande, Dean of George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology at Webster University"