Turn Into the Skid
Every business hits an icy patch once in a while. No matter the cause – new competitors, faltering revenue performance, expense overruns, or the more nefarious conditions like fraud – how you react as a leader has everything to do with whether the business ends up in the ditch, or continues down the road.
Step One: Take your foot off the gas
Don’t assume that you can regain control by powering through the situation. You and your response team must focus on the issue and that diverting time away from non-core initiatives.
Under no circumstances, however, should you brake hard. “All hands on deck” rarely works. People will continue to do what they know how to do. As a result, the business will be carried forward by its own momentum, continuing to slide. Instead, keep most of your people focused on the fundamental KPIs. Slow down less important initiatives. An ongoing focus on KPIs will position you well as you come out of the skid.
Step Two: Turn into the Skid
Put together a cross functional team to tackle the problem. The nature of the challenge will dictate which functional areas need to be on the response team. Likely candidates include operations, customer service, sales, product and finance.
In times of danger or uncertainty, people can become scared, often assuming the worst possible scenario. Scared employees, customers and suppliers can severely hamper your ability to navigate through dangerous conditions. Ensure that frequent and clear communications are part of your response plan. Corporate communications and marketing should be part of almost any response team.
Step Three: Begin to Accelerate
As the business begins to pivot out of the skid, start to accelerate your business again. Reevaluate where you are and begin to make investments to drive your business. With the dangerous conditions behind you, focus should return to your customers.
One final piece of advice: the icy patch is not the danger; it’s only the warning sign. The real risk is ending up in a ditch (bankrupt) or hitting someone else (damaging customers or suppliers). Remain calm when your business hits an icy patch, slow down and turn into the skid. Dangerous conditions can be unforgiving.