Are you leading your company or team through a risky or challenging time?
There are ways to handle the risk well, such as by:
- Preventing or eliminating it, perhaps by taking a different path toward your goal than you originally envisioned.
- Reducing, retiming, or in other ways resizing risk.
- Changing your perspective and comfort with uncertainty by focusing on the value of the change instead of its cost
Yet, try as you might, you have to acknowledge, and work with the fact that taking a risk means there is a chance that things could go wrong.
And that means, of course, that you could fail.
It’s hard to hear, but true.
Prepare for the best, but be able to recover well and move on when things don’t go as you hoped.
It is an essential skill.
Sometimes recovering well means giving up (this is hard to hear, too, but you may be chasing the wrong goal for current circumstances).
It may mean trying to recoup your losses as well as you can before deciding what to do next.
Or it may involve trying the same approach, but in a better way, using what you’ve learned from the current experience.
Recovering well can also mean that you try to meet the same goal, but in a different way.
When trying to recover or regroup from something that didn’t work as you’d hoped, try these actions:
1. Increase your focus on your customers.
A company or team that has been thrown off-course can start to feed on itself.
And people who are burned out, or stressed, can start to see customers as “the enemy”* instead of the reason their jobs exist.
The situation can quickly degenerate in a downward spiral.
Focus on your customers and what they need from you.
2. Be clear and consistent in your instructions, feedback and guidance to your team.
Grow your trust in this uncertain time, if you can.
It will reduce your stress and that of your team if you trust people to do their jobs (unless you have proof through poor performance that trust is misplaced…and then you have a different problem to solve).
If your stress response is to micromanage, you make things for worse for your team AND yourself.
Ask for coaching to get over the need to manage by microscope, perhaps by developing a delegation process, and practicing to build comfort with the skills.
3. Reinforce what’s most important.
Keep your eyes on the prize as you regroup, and prepare to take a new path forward.
Make sure everyone on your team has current information about current circumstances and, when you’re ready to share them, the plan for moving forward. (The real issue here is that you’d hate to make a high-risk situation worse with poor communication).
Get rid of extraneous tasks and other drags on your energy and attention right now.
You don’t need distractions when you’re trying to regain your focus and forward motion.
Mistake-proof the way work gets done, to the degree that is possible and helpful now.
Taking that action could be a distraction under present circumstances, or it could save you from further damage in regrouping, recouping and moving on mode.
6. There may come a point when you need to stop stressing, pressing, and just accept what’s underway.
It’s important to know when stopping to accept current circumstances…really accept them…is your best and strongest move.
You may be sad. You may be mad.
But you have to accept the present situation to be able to understand it, let go of it, make the best of it and move beyond.
Strangely enough, at times of great risk and stress, you may gain control when you just let go.
*David Letterman, Late Night With David Letterman, once interviewed a flight attendant as part of the show’s “Stump the Band” game.
“You probably talk to the passengers quite a bit, don’t you?” he asked her.
“OH, NO! We don’t talk to them if we can help it! They’re the enemy!” she quickly said.
Suddenly she realized that, even though she meant what she said, it would not help her well-known employer for customers to know that IS, indeed, what she and some other flight attendants felt.