As a CEO, president or business owner, how many times have you had a business problem you just didn’t want to face?
Oh you knew there was a problem. You knew you should do something to fix it. But instead of taking action and directly facing the situation you just ignored it, hoping somehow it would just go away. If you’re like most business people, you know all too well just what I’m talking about. Here’s the good news: Facing a business problem brings success in the long term. No matter how difficult and challenging it may initially seem to you and your company.
I was reminded personally of just how hard it can be to face problems recently as I was working on a new marketing campaign for my business. From the start the project was riddled with an endless array of problems – some of which happened not once, not twice but three times! When it seemed that nothing else could possibly go wrong I received a call which informed me that with so many mistakes the project had to be postponed. I couldn’t believe it. These were people I had worked with numerous times before. I asked myself: What’s changed?
Now I was running out of time, and felt an enormous pressure to just get it done. But then I had a nagging thought I really didn’t want to consider: With everything in a rush, were other potentially costly errors going to occur?
I wasn’t being superstitious — I was just trying to be in tune with what was happening around me. Should I just proceed with the project and hope for the best, or take the time the make sure everything was completed correctly? In the end, I faced the problem and postponed the project. Ultimately, I decided upon taking the project another direction which resulted in success.
This is just the sort of experience business people must face everyday. The question I often ask CEOs, presidents and business owners when discussing a business problem is:
Which way do you want the pain? (Pause) Do you want the pain of getting it right and facing the issue; or would you rather not face the problem, and instead deal with the pain associated with those consequences?
When you don’t acknowledge the need to take control and resolve the business problems or business issues, you create pain for yourself and for your company. Even worse, all that pain and tension associated with the problem creates its own stress and in the end is just wasted energy.
As a CEO, president and business owner you face multiple business problems, issues and challenges everyday. Let’s look at 3 examples how facing a business problem brings success in the long term:
1.) Employees. Regardless of what product or service your company is known for, you are in the people business. Without people there won’t be a business. Employees are the front line representing your company to customers. No matter how well you may hire for attitude, skill, talent and education, employees can create a number of business problems you must address. Consider a few scenarios:
- A longtime employee who does good work yet does not abide by company policy. It could be work hours, extended lunch breaks, project deadlines, coming to work on time, company dress code, missed meetings, constantly texting on a personal smartphone or a host of other work related responsibilities and tasks specific to their job.
- The employee who produces high sales for the company but does so by selling the wrong products and services or chooses not to abide by the sales process presentation mandated by the company.
- The employee in sales who promised you the world and swore he or she could hit the ground running during the interview, but who now isn’t living up to expectations. The employee answer responds to you with: Do you want quantity or quality? Refuses to fill out report forms or take accountability for their work. Instead you find them on the phone with personal calls, on the internet “researching” prospects or outside smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee.
In each of these examples it is critical the employer address the issue directly with the employee. The key with each of these examples is how the employee is taking control and running the company according to his or her preferences rather than the company’s rules and regulations. This creating stress for you, the employer, who has now essentially lost control.
Not only are company needs are not being met, but other employees begin to emulate the unacceptable behavior; interpreting the unspoken message they can do what they want as well. This can only lead to eventual total chaos in your company. The solution is to lead and take control, setting and enforcing guidelines.
Too many CEOs, presidents and business owners fall into the trap of pacifying the problem employee, which can ultimately create even more anticipated pain, such as replacing the individual with a new hire. This often leads to business people saying: I wish I would have (fill in the blank) six months ago. Rather than taking action now and moving forward in the business.
2.) Financial: Business is down. You’re worried about how to meet your financial obligations month after month and just hope somehow it will fix itself. The truth is that many factors can play into why business is down but if you don’t face the situation it will never resolve itself.
- As the leader of the company do you really know your business?
- Do you know how many prospects your sales force is contacting per week?
- Do you know how many sales appointments they are making?
- Do you really even have a dedicated sales team?
- Do you know what the sales are each day/each week/each month?
- Is there a sales plan?
- Does your sales team formally report on setting and achieving goals?
- If sales have gone down, what has changed since the last time sales figures were on target?
- Is there a monthly profit and loss (P&L) statement?
- If someone asked you about your business would you be able to answer basic questions such as these?
If not, your pain is initially a result of not knowing your business. The pain can be lessened substantially by getting a quick hold on learning about the business and seeing first-hand what is really happening. Only then can business start to improve.
3.) Time Management/Organization: Your desk at the office and even at home is littered with papers, folders, unopened mail and unanswered messages. You return phone calls and emails days later than you should. You are always running late and never seem to have your appointment calendar with you. Notes are jotted down on miscellaneous pieces of paper you can’t ever seem to find again. You never seem to get anything really accomplished yet you’re doing a lot of “stuff” every day.
The answer here is easy. Get organized!
- Arrange moments of time throughout your day to quickly assess your organizational needs to get you through the remainder of today as well as a have more effective tomorrow.
- Delegate! You can’t do it all yourself, so entrust your employees with appropriate duties and assignments. Relying on your employees will create a more cohesive and team oriented work environment, and you might even get to take a real lunch break!
- Take a day off. Or even go on a vacation without your cell phone ringing every ten minutes. The time you spend relaxing will help clear your mind and prepare you to better deal with the problems at hand.
As a CEO, president or business owner, in order to rectify business problems, the first step is to ensure you are consistent in responding to daily business. How do you respond to each interaction you have during the day? Do you have a set standard? Learn how to step back for a moment to review the situation objectively and dispassionately, identifying 2-3 possible solutions.
Once you’ve thought the situation through, respond accordingly without the stress or the pain that comes when we involve ourselves too deeply in the situation. There isn’t any clear-cut path to solving business problems but you can begin to rethink how you respond and acknowledge the challenges faced each day. If you are not getting what you want or need from someone or something then it is time to consider what options you have and arrive at a decision that you can act upon.
Look carefully to pinpoint the specific elements and business situations that tend to bring on stress, cause your voice to change tones or just those you simply try to avoid. The more you are aware of these scenarios the more effectively a business problem can be resolved. The result will be less pressure on you as well as a better-run, improved business.
Remember: It is not just your knowledge, but also how you interact with people that makes you effective as a business leader.
Preparing for possible obstacles can make business problem solving more manageable as well. Give yourself an assignment: Anticipate every scenario you can imagine to happen in your business then consider potential solutions for each. Taking the time to think through options now, when you have the luxury of time, can pay big dividends later when time is of the essence. Airline pilots are trained in this very technique, practicing how to handle the plane in a wind sheer, deal with inoperable landing gear or any number of other problems, so that when they are suddenly thrust into a real life experience their response is instantaneous and reliable. Shouldn’t you invest the time to prepare to steer your company through potential business problems, issues and challenges as well? The answer is: Yes!
Again, as mentioned at the beginning of this article regarding a business problem you are facing:
Which way do you want the pain?
- Do you want to be an proactive CEO, president or business owner, who is assertive, smart and actively participates in the business?
- Or do you want to sit back and just let business “happen”?
The decision will be an easy one if you are truly committed to growing your business. To living the business dream and vision you created. You worked so hard to achieve all that you have with your company. Why take the chance of losing it all because you don’t want to face the endless array of business problems one by one? Don’t delay addressing a business problem that may later lead you to regret your lack of action or cost you business.
Those CEOs, presidents and business owners who can find the strength to face a business problem directly head on will find a future of success and prosperity in the long term.
To your success!
Business expert and strategist, Howard Lewinter, guides – focuses – advises CEOs, presidents and business owners throughout the United States to MORE success – MORE profit – less stress. Business problems? Business issues? Get MORE from your business! Talk business with Howard: 888-738-1855.