17 June 2020

Sometimes business owners lack the proper direction, but there’s hope.

You’re the owner, that means you’re supposed to know everything that is to know about your business — or does it? Either way, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having all the answers, especially in times of crisis. It’s understandable that when the business owner is feeling lost 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.

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 the worst thing you can do. Being honest enhances your credibility in the eyes of everybody, especially considering that nobody really expects you to be all-knowing. When your employees realise 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 crisis that you simply cannot, at least for the time being, resolve?

Focus on what’s really happening

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.

Use data to 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 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.

Remember that it’s not personal

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 the root cause, then when your initial action fails, 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.

Don’t be afraid to make wrong decisions again

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 should 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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