Operations: Monkey See, Monkey Do
As a business owner, it’s impossible to guarantee that nothing will go wrong in your business and how you will handle it with problem solving. At some point, a pipe will burst and flood your entire Group X room, a member will have a cardiac incident, an employee will steal from you – and the list of possible bad scenarios goes on. Unfortunately, this is a reality of business.
These situations can be made worse or better by one thing: how you, as your business’ leader, handle the situation. After all, your employees are looking to you for guidance on how to react to certain incidents. If you freak out, they will too. In business, it truly is “monkey see, monkey do” when it comes to those that work for you.
A year or so ago, I took this lesson to heart. We were finalizing an issue, just a few days out from going to print, and the last thing we were waiting on was the cover photos. The day they were due, I got an email from the photographer saying that the cover files had been corrupted, and there was absolutely no way to recover them. New photos would have to be taken. To make the situation worse, the cover subject was out of town, and would not be back till Monday — the day after the magazine was scheduled to start printing.
Instead of panicking, we went into problem-solving mode. I called the cover subject and photographer to find out the absolute soonest they could meet up. Then, I called the printer, told them the situation, and asked if there was any way we could work something out to still meet our print deadline. Fortunately, they were willing to work with us, agreeing to print the majority of the magazine beforehand, and then print the missing pages as soon as we received the photos.
Inside, I’m not going to lie — I wanted to cry. But, I knew that crying would get me nowhere. In all reality, crying would probably make the situation much, much worse. My team would see me freaking out, and would think the situation was irreparable. So, instead of crying, I strategically planned what to do. And a result, I think that helped save the issue. Because I was calm, the photographer, cover subject and printer likely reacted better to the situation, and my team was more productive.
By staying calm, I was also able to strategically think about how to prevent this scenario from happening again. Now, our print process has changed so that photography errors are caught much, much sooner, giving us more room for error. And as a result, we haven’t run into this particular bad scenario again.
With this in mind, the next time something goes seriously wrong at your business, go into problem solving mode, instead of panic mode. The key here is that you’re setting an example. As a result, the next time a problem arises and you’re not around, your employees will know the best way to handle the situation.
They won’t freak out, because you wouldn’t.