Don’t Panic! How to Stop Reacting in Crisis Mode

The pandemic and the economic downturn that followed put many businesses in shaky situations. It’s not the first, or the last, time in history that business leaders will navigate uncertainty. Businesses have been succeeding and failing since capitalism began. It’s a fact of life when you go into business, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.

Many businesses that could have won during this new normal lost due to poor and reactive management. If business crises have been happening since the dawn of capitalism, why is it that businesses keep going under for the same reason?

Because humans run businesses, and humans are emotional, fallible creatures.

Breaking news: A crisis hits

When a crisis hits, whether it’s external (a pandemic) or internal (a sudden change in leadership or loss of a major client), “business as usual” ceases to exist.

We stop everything and focus on survival.

Leaders focus on the problem in front of them and how to solve it. They go into reactionary mode. Sometimes, that’s necessary. Staying in reactionary mode long-term, however, can hurt a business. This type of mindset leads to jumping from one thing to the next, trying to put out fires on the outskirts while neglecting the core of the company.

Stop wasting your time

When we feel threatened, we look for solutions to protect us from that threat. That is a good thing. When we constantly feel threatened, it causes the need for immediate solutions to snowball, gain speed, and draw us away from our core goals. Here’s an example:

John’s pipeline is empty, and his business has little to no online credibility. He deals with this by deciding to:

  • Build a website
  • Create marketing materials
  • Educate his list of contacts through emailing campaigns

As he throws himself into these projects, he:

  • Reads about SEO (whatever that is) and decides he must spend time on it
  • Comes up with three marketing campaign ideas to send out right now, complete with new graphics, tag lines, and logos
  • Emails his contacts about each new thing he’s excited about

A few months down the line, his pipeline is still empty. His contacts are confused and annoyed by his emails. His website doesn’t match his brand and isn’t gaining traffic. Why? Because amidst the excitement of finding all the solutions, and the solutions to go with those solutions, he failed to:

  • Start prospecting (getting referrals, calling leads, networking)
  • Define his brand
  • Set a clear plan and objective and stick to it

John got sidetracked by the solutions, and not the goals. If your goal is to get tied up doing a million things that might help your business, but that are time-intensive and complicated, then go down John’s path.

If you want to make substantial, reliable progress, slow down.

Get back to the basics

Whether or not you’re in a moment of crisis, the core of what makes a business successful is always the same. Aside from having a valuable, reliable product:

  • Do you have a strong brand, complete with company values, vision, and voice?
  • Are you able to understand your customers’ pain points and needs?
  • Are you able to successfully communicate with your customers?
  • Do you have a healthy company culture?
  • Are you getting prospects and leads?
  • Are you spending time each day prospecting those leads?

Focusing on the core needs of your business is the best way to get you through a crisis. While some pivoting may need to happen, if it’s done without tying back to a core need and goal, it’s going to fail. Or, at the least, waste your time.

Take off the tunnel vision glasses

The frame of mind that helps us deal with a crisis by homing in on what needs to happen right now to avoid failure is not sustainable. When you’re feeling the anxiety of rising waters, stop looking for the one small plank that will keep you afloat and start looking for higher ground.

Create clear goals centered around your core business needs. Define how you will meet those core needs. Align each action you take to a core goal that meets a core need.

Don’t skip ahead. Don’t get distracted.

Keep moving, with your eye on the target, and your feet on the ground.

 

Photo by Volodymyr Melnyk

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

More Than a Logo: How a Strong and Consistent Brand Impacts Your Entire Organization

Often, when the topic of branding comes up, thoughts of logos, colors, and fonts preclude all else. But your brand is so much more than that! Your voice, messaging, company beliefs and values, vision, and purpose come together to create a cohesive story that impacts everything from external marketing to internal company culture. 

 

How your brand affects how others perceive you 

A strong brand will do wonders for your marketing. By incorporating your voice, values, and purpose into your messaging, you begin to establish your brand as a consistent presence in your industry or market. This consistency distinguishes your company from your competitors and gives you a leg up in the marketplace. You’ll begin to build trust with your prospects earlier in the buyer’s journey, establish deep lines of customer loyalty, and increase your company’s credibility.   

 

But your brand doesn’t just affect your audience. In fact, its effects on your organization are far more significant and much more important than anything seen from the outside. 

 

How your brand affects your perception of yourself 

When you have a cohesive brand, your whole organization is improved from the inside out. You’ll find employees more aligned, teams working together more efficiently, and productivity increased.  

 

Cross-departmental communication can often be a pain point for larger organizations. With a strong brand, though, consistency is easier to achieve, and communication becomes streamlined through the natural guide created by the values and vision that make up your brand.  

 

Clearly defined company values can even improve your recruiting and hiring process! Your brand provides candidates the ability to determine if they will feel good within your company. When you find someone who aligns with your brand and seems like they could play a vital role in achieving your company’s vision, you’ll find that they’ll be a good fit for your culture, and the transition will be natural. 

 

Refining from the inside out 

If you’ve never taken your organization through a branding process, it takes a while. It’s not a simple checklist or a short survey. It will entail philosophic conversations around the very existence of your business and might bring up uncomfortable topics that need to be addressed. But the time and energy you pour into it will result in a business and brand that you and your team can proudly stand by and celebrate. Your audience will see the confidence and pride from miles away and will inexorably be drawn towards you. 

 

 

Photo by everydayplus

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Growing Backwards: Reactive Managing

If you’re a business owner or manager of a team, you very likely wear many different hats. Especially for small businesses, owners often find themselves needing to go in different directions every day. If this sounds like your days, ask yourself when you were last able to sit down and think ahead? What about actually plan ahead?

All too often, leaders get wrapped up in moment-to-moment tasks, allowing their time to get sucked down the drain of immediate crises. Working in a constantly reactive state can feel good, though. You may be thinking:

I’m a fast and efficient problem-solver!

I’m a doer. I get s**t done!

I don’t let problems bring me down—I face them head-on!

Yes. You probably are all of those things. But when you spend 100% of your time being all of those things, you miss out on time spent being a strategist, a planner, a thinker, and a visionary! How do you expect your business to grow if you can’t think farther ahead than the next problem brought to you?

Reacting to every little thing that comes across your path can feel like you’re getting a lot done. But while you’re focusing on what’s right in front of you, more significant problems will grow in the background, and you may not even notice them developing. And when they catch up to you, you won’t have the time or energy to manage them.

Getting back on track

Although reacting to urgent problems is part of every leader’s job, it’s critical they also make time to manage for the future, not just the current moment. Get a handle on your reactive managing style and start building a foundation for the future.

1. Delegate

One of the major issues with reactionary managing is allowing unimportant, but urgent, tasks eat up your time. Start practicing handing off some of these tasks to your team. It can feel scary to delegate, but hopefully, you’ll soon find that your team is more than capable of answering phone calls and emails, calling that cranky client, or fixing a botched order. Save your time for issues that really need your attention specifically—not just attention in general.

2. Re-think your calendar

If you’re wondering where you’re supposed to find the time to plan, look at your calendar and pinpoint areas that can be re-prioritized. “But I don’t have the time!” isn’t an excuse.

Yes, you do have the time. You’ve just decided it’s better spent elsewhere. But is it? Really?

It’s a safe bet that you’ve got 30 minutes, or even an hour, every day you could re-allocate to a different activity. If you’re not sure where to start, try tracking your time throughout a week, detailing exactly how you spent each moment at work. Chances are, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised by how much time you ended up spending on unnecessary tasks that don’t require your energy.

Block out designated time on your calendar to spend looking at the big picture of your business. Give yourself an opportunity to identify those background problems that are much more easily dealt with before they grow, rather than after they’ve boiled over. Hold boundaries around this time. Tell your team you are unavailable during these blocked-out times and give them time to develop their independence with your newfound delegation.

Treat this time like it’s sacred—because it is! You need it to make sure your company grows smoothly and efficiently.

3. Process, process, process

A common issue among businesses that are run reactively is a lack of clear processes for employees to follow. If your management style is running around putting out fires, you probably haven’t had time to build an organized system for solving problems and dealing with spontaneous change.

Every leader, team, and organization will face roadblocks, speed bumps, and detours. But if you don’t have a map for your team to follow to their destination, the efficiency with which they’ll arrive at a solution will take a big hit.

It is time well spent to work out and document processes for your team to follow when issues arise. Proactively planning for potential challenges that your team may face will save you a lot of time and energy when they do arise.

A sustainable leadership strategy

Being quick on your feet and always moving to the next shiny new challenge may be fun at times, but it’ll eventually burn you out and leave you with larger problems. If you want to grow your team or business in a sustainable direction, prioritize time for strategy and proactively planning for your future. It’s the only way to win.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

 

Photo by Rabia Elif Aksoy