Working with your team when things aren't going well

There is only one way to learn. It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.

Paulo Coelho

There will be times as a business owner when things don’t go according to plan. In fact, things might go terribly wrong. Never waste a good trial. That’s a great motto but it’s also important to reflect on what you are learning in the midst of a difficult season. Whatever you learn, it is important to write it down, because these lessons could become invaluable later in life. Here’s what I’ve learned from dealing with extremely difficult situations in the past.

"Communicate, communicate, communicate – especially with your team. Whatever is happening, is happening to them too and the more information they have the more they support you." Matt Edmundson

Foundations matter. Build solid foundations when things are going well, establish the culture and be intentional about it because when things get tricky, you really rely on that culture. If the culture is right, you and your team will respond with courage and poise rather than panic and self-serving.

Create space for yourself. As the leader, you need to be clear and full of faith – because everyone is looking to you. Their courage is feed by your courage. You need space, a lot of it, to process what you are going through. It is tempting to work all of the hours and get caught up in the detail. You can’t afford to do that, as tempting as it is. Now is the time to lead. So lead.

Journalling really helps!

Be honest, real and vulnerable but at the same time, be strong and faith-filled. People value both sides of the coin. You can’t be “the whole world is caving in” and not offer hope. At the same time you can’t be “everything is fine” when it clearly isn’t. Tell the truth, attractively. Tell the truth, faithfully.

Never underestimate how loyal customers are to a great company. If you have worked hard to get the foundations right and offer the customer a great service, you will have loyal customers. They will stick with you. They will trust you.

In your efforts to restructure, protect and rebuild your business – never forget the basics: your values, your customers and your team. Do that with an eye of commercial viability and it will work.

Deal with today. The short term is where the horror is, the medium to long term is where the hope is. Don’t put off dealing with today because of what you think might happen in 2-3 months or even the next year.

Triage. Asses the situation. Deal with those things that have the most impact, give your attention to that. Get everything down to the basics, forget the periphery and get the core strong again. Re-prioritise and do that very quickly. Let people know what they should be doing, and get them on it quickly.

Watch what you say. People are looking to you and your words. Don’t blame. Remember the rule of forgiveness. It is what it is. Complaining never solved anything. Deal with it, move on. There are plenty of opportunities waiting for you in this new arena. You’ll never find them complaining or being negative for very long.

Be decisive. Now is not the time to second guess yourself. Make the hard decisions. Make them quickly. Stick with that decision and move on to the next. If it really is apparent that you have made the wrong decision, change course quickly. But don’t do that unless absolutely necessary. You will create confusion in you, your team and your customers.