ISSUES: Identify. Solve. Or they could cost you.

This is the 4th blog in our series “The 8 Steps to Overcome the Big 5 Frustrations Business Owners Face.”
 
Part of the challenge in family business, or any business for that matter, is that the world does not stop and allow you to pursue your strategy in a nice, orderly fashion.  Whether it is internal or external, issues pop up throughout the course of the day in any business: employee issues, supply chain disruptions, technical issues, pressing deadlines, customer emergencies and every day stress in the workplace. Despite the best-laid plans, there is always something demanding attention, pulling you and your leadership team away from income producing activities and growing the business.
 
Failing to address problems quickly can compound matters and threaten the stability of a company. Avoid letting problems linger. Tackling issues as they occur is a much better strategy than waiting – hoping - for things to get better or work themselves out. Employees get discouraged when they see problems go unaddressed. It can cost you time, money and even key personnel if left to fester.
 
So how do you prevent issues from derailing the company’s progress? Here are a few ideas for minimizing their occurrence and how to deal with them effectively when they do happen.
 
1. Schedule regular meetings to address problems and have process to resolve them. Carve out time at your regular team meetings to identify and solve problems. Consider using a form to prep the issue in advance. At the end of this blog, I’ve shared two tips you can use to create an issue resolution policy.
 
2. Foster open communication in the workplace. Letting employees know that they are free to talk about whatever is bothering them can cut down on difficult situations and help you solve them before they get out of hand.  
 
3. Be sure to dig for the real issue.  Rarely is the stated problem the real issue. Peel back the layers and ask why – a lot. Once the real issue is identified, stay focused on it until successfully resolved. Don’t treat symptoms with band-aids or duct tape – get to the root cause and solve it once and for all!
 
4. Hire slow. Fire fast. Yes, we need to go here. It’s just a fact of life that some people feed on creating drama. This is why I believe in making sure new hires are not just qualified for the job, but more importantly, they are aligned with the company values. On the flip side, if you have a bad apple, let them go. Even a high performing employee can be a source of tension, if their words and/or actions go against the company’s core values.
 
5. Work on your culture - DAILY. It’s amazing what a strong culture can do to minimize issues. When the business has a positive, collaborative culture, employees from the loading dock to C-suite are empowered to meet issues head on and encouraged to ask for help when the issue is larger than their skill set for solving it.
 
Although business is not a democracy, the best long-term solutions come from the team sharing their thoughts, ideas and concerns in order to find the path to a solution. Then it’s time to decide. You must pick a course of action and implement. Not everyone will like the decision, but they will respect the process, as long a decision is made. Wavering on the resolution’s follow-through is a culture killer. Stay the course.
 
Dealing with disruptions takes time and energy. It may be even be unpleasant, but “nipping a problem in the bud” takes far less time and costs far less money, than what you'll have to face if you delay action or deny it exists.
 
This proactive approach increases the level of trust within the organization. And high trust leads to faster resolution of future issues. 
 
Bottom line…issues happen.  Address them. Identify the real issue. And solve it - ASAP.
 
TIP #1: My Vistage group receives an Issue/Opportunity form ahead of our monthly meeting. It forces members to be concise about the issue (or opportunity), share why it’s significant, envision the ideal outcome, put forth possible resolutions and share what help they would like from the team. It evens challenges them to assign a dollar value to the situation. Great exercise. Reach out to me if you’d like to see a sample.
 
TIP #2: Governance provides a clear framework for resolving issues, especially in a family business. Check out this video on the subject to learn more about this valuable tool.

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