A few months back a very good friend of mine who owns a small business encountered a critical situation that had the potential of putting him out of business. While I did not hear much from him during his handling of the crisis, for obvious reasons, I was able to catch up with him the other day. From that conversation I received some great tidbits on the lessons he learned managing his small business’ catastrophe.
1. Avoid losing Control
This one is very important. While it would be quite easy under the circumstances to panic and let things get out of hand, you must avoid doing this at all costs. When you stay calm you will logically be able to assess the situation and devise a solution that will not negatively impact your business in the future. Remember, you want to think rationally and act instead of trying to solve things by reacting based on emotion. It may seem like the sky is falling, but if you keep your cool and work through the issues you will be all the better for it.
2. Focus on the Immediate Problem
While it is necessary to consider long term impact, avoid focusing on it so much that it hinders the resolution of the issue. Ultimately, the goal is to determine the solution as quickly as possible and avoid immediate damages. Once the problem has been fixed you and your team can regroup and work out a plan to deflect future problems. However, this can only be accomplished if you have sufficiently taken care of the current crisis.
3. Treat the Crisis as an Opportunity
When my friend told me this it struck me as odd at first but seemed very logical in the end. It is a known fact that bad things are going to happen, regardless of how much we try to plan for them. So when the fire has been put out and everything is back to normal, engage in finding the root cause of the problem and work on how you are going to avoid it in the future. If you do this correctly you should never have to worry about experiencing a similiar catastrophe ever again.
4. Assess How Employees Handle Stress
Now is the perfect time to see how your employees handle the pressure of a crisis and find out who you can really count on. During the interview process I am sure each one of the prospects you interviewed probably responded positively to how they perform in a stressful situation. Though this is something You will never know until a catastrophe strikes and you have the opportunity to see for yourself. While I am sure you hope to avoid these types of situations, the fact is you can make your team stronger in the long run.
As you can see there really are things to learn from a critical situation. My friend and his business emerged from the crisis no worse for the wear and will actually be much stronger in the long run thanks to the lessons learned from this experience.
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