If you have plans to grow your small business into a larger venture, it's inevitable that you'll hit a few bumps in the road along the way. I
If you have plans to grow your small business into a larger venture, it’s inevitable that you’ll hit a few bumps in the road along the way.
It could be the loss of a major client or supplier. Maybe a key employee departs the organization. Any deviation from your plan can not only affect your bottom line, but also shake the foundation of the business–namely, the confidence, engagement, and loyalty of your team.
Reassuring your team that a temporary setback isn’t going to affect your long-term success is crucial. Employees that are unsure of the company’s future may not stick around to see how it all shakes out. Suddenly, you’re facing a mass exodus and other destabilizing changes.
On the other hand, pretending that everything is fine and failing to adjust your outlook can also be dangerous. Employees want to see leadership, not posturing.
With that in mind, here are a few ways to reassure your team earnestly while adjusting your business to your new reality.
1. Be proactive in sharing the news.
When your business takes a hit, some employees may find out before others. Generally speaking, however, you should seek to share news of the change as soon as possible.
Write a company-wide email that announces the shift. You should share details on when this change will happen (if it hasn’t already), what this means for the business, and what you plan to do to address any expected consequences.
For example, if you lose a major client, detail the schedule for winding down the relationship. Note how much business you did with this client, and how you’ll redistribute members of your team to new projects in the short-term to make up for that business. Finally, outline any preliminary plans you have to replace the business lost.
Finally, let people know that you’re open to discussing this change and want to hear their input. By getting out ahead of the news and giving people the chance to feel like they have a voice in the adjustment process, you set the tone for the narrative around the loss. Letting word seep out allows false narratives to develop–which can send employee confidence spiraling.
2. Don’t undercut your long-term goals with short-term plays.
It can be tempting, when faced with a short-term loss, to score a quick win to balance the books (both financial and emotional).
And while you can–and should–make adjustments to your outlook and gameplan when something outside your control occurs, be careful not to overcorrect. Keeping your long-term goals in mind while deciding how you’ll adapt will help ensure you’re not losing sight of your ultimate vision.
The alternative–allowing a single issue to alter your long-term plans–will leave you constantly scrambling to react, rather than remaining proactive in your approach. This will likely lead to more issues down the road. And, if you continue responding to each one by completely pivoting your company strategy, this will leave employees feeling confused and frustrated, not to mention your bottom line could suffer as well.
3. Emphasize diversification as a solution.
Diversification is a strategy you should pursue in almost every facet of your business. You should pull from a diverse range of potential customers; maintain relationships with multiple suppliers; use a variety of marketing channels; and so on. The more diversified your business is, the better you’ll be able to weather dings and losses.
When discussing a recent setback with employees, discuss how you can use this as an opportunity to seek further diversification. If you lose one big client, can you direct the efforts of your employees toward capturing and servicing two newer clients?
By pursuing diversification, you signal to employees that you want to avoid overreliance on any single factor of your success. That will give employees confidence that future setbacks won’t be as cataclysmic and jeopardizing.
4. Guide management on how to reinforce the message.
Good leaders empower others to take their own approach and make their own decisions. After announcing the change via email or a company-wide meeting, let your managers address their direct reports in their own way about this change–while making yourself available to them in case they need guidance or advice on how to communicate the message.
Only so much reassurance can come from the top. The conversations that your managers and their reports will have about the next steps are just as impactful as hearing from you. Don’t force those managers to parrot your talking points. Different perspectives on handling future issues may arise when you let your managers take over reassuring and, yes, managing their team.
Continuing to be proactive, sticking to your strategy for success, diversifying your business model, and providing guidance without being overbearing are all excellent ways to keep morale and engagement high–no matter what situation your business faces.
Published on: Feb 25, 2020
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