In an ideal business world, everyone working at a company would always get along famously and harmoniously collaborate day in and day out toward shared objectives they all believe in passionately.
Sounds nice, right? Unfortunately, it’s not very realistic—neither for the entrepreneur starting a business nor the business owner running an existing business for years.
In all companies, leaders face adversity within their ranks at times. Adversity isn’t usually fun, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating either.
How can you manage adversity gracefully so it doesn’t hurt your business?
Below are some ways I’ve found to effectively work through it.
- Leverage Relationships – By focusing on your shared goals rather than what you’re butting heads about, you can neutralize an at-odds situation and discuss issues openly. Realize you’ll have had to lay the groundwork first by building relationships with your employees. I’ve found having mutual respect is of the utmost importance when talking things out with employees.
- Give Them A Chance To Vent – Sometimes people just need to get dissatisfaction off their chests. The mere act of listening without judgment can diffuse irritability. I try to give my team the confidence and capacity to vent (with proper boundaries in place, of course) when something is bothering them. It gives me an opportunity to listen and learn about what’s upsetting them, to acknowledge and validate I understand their feelings, and to collaborate on a resolution.
- Never Make Assumptions – You know what they say about assuming! It’s true. If you jump to conclusions and try to figure out what your employees are thinking without asking them directly, you will shatter their confidence in you. Only they can accurately express what’s bothering them and why it’s causing them to act the way they are.
- Show Integrity—ALWAYS! – Even when you find it difficult to reason with someone, you need to keep a cool head and act professionally. It’s never OK to talk behind an employee’s back or otherwise discredit their feelings and concerns. Always take the higher road—and always follow through on what you say you will do when resolving an issue.
- Do A Post-Mortem – Aim to figure out what series of events or conditions caused the adversity to occur. If it was something within your control, make an effort to avoid that perfect storm again in the future. And if justified, apologize! A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way toward healing hurt and restoring trust.
- Don’t Let It Ruin Your Day – Sometimes adversity happens despite your best efforts. As imperfect humans, we will sometimes have misunderstandings, be less patient than we should be, and point fingers at one another. Don’t take incidents of adversity personally. Often, they arise because every person’s frame of reference and degree of adaptability is different. Realize adversity happens in every business—and it’s something we can use to become better leaders. Each time we handle difficult situations, we learn more about our employees and ourselves. The key is to harness that knowledge and use it to more effectively communicate and resolve issues in the future.
Unfortunately the ideal world I described at the start of this article doesn’t exist. But by handling adversity more adeptly, we can get closer to creating it.
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