26 July 2016

How often do you find yourself in a dreadful state of “I don’t know what to do” when running your business?

When you’re at the helm, you’re supposed to know everything that is to know about your business — or aren’t you? Either way, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having all the answers, especially in times of crisis.

It’s understandable that when the leader is somewhat up in the air about certain aspects of the business, the effect sometimes trickles down to everyone below. And when that happens, people tend to resort to desperate measures.

Naturally, no one is supposed to have all the answers, and yet some business owners refuse to acknowledge that fact. They are likely to think that not having an immediate response to a setback makes them inferior and inadequate. Sometimes they even end up pretending they know exactly what to do just to avoid the humiliation.

As it turns out, admitting you don’t have the answer is not that bad. Honesty enhances your credibility in the eyes of everybody, especially considering that nobody really expects you to be all-knowing. When your employees realize that you’re willing to admit momentary weakness, they will have a better image of you as a leader and will make them want to be on the same page.

Of course, that is not to say that acknowledging your own flaws — especially when you’re the one behind the wheel — is easy. So this begs the question: what is the best way to manage a sticky situation that you simply cannot, at least for the time being, resolve?

Concentrate on the facts

Sometimes, business owners get caught up with anxiety and panic that they tend to overlook glaring truths right in front of them. When things go south and you can’t put your finger on what’s causing it, gather the facts and focus on defining the problem before you even start working on the solution.

Investigate

You cannot fully understand the situation just by looking at a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet. Talk to your people, and ask the important questions. Consult experts. Share ideas with peers. Better yet, ask for input from people directly involved with the quandary. Just because you’re the one who has to make the decision doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep other people in the loop.

Do not take it personally

Letting your emotions interfere with how you intend to face the problem isn’t going to help. It will only get bigger and worse like a snowball; first you’ll blame yourself for allowing root cause to happen, and then when your initial countermeasure falls short, you’ll interpret it as total failure on your part and so on, until you’ve completely crippled yourself from making a sound and objective solution.

Do not let wrong decisions scare you easily

Even the best doctors come up with half-baked diagnoses of patients just to rule out possibilities and narrow down options. Not every response to a dilemma need to be perfect. When you end up making a wrong decision to resolve a crisis, own up to the error and make sure to extract valuable lessons and information. That way, by knowing what doesn’t work, you can move on to the next solution on the table.

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