Here’s the scenario. A situation has arisen in your business that is unexpected and unfavorable. Your only file server has mysteriously crashed and your operation is grinding to a halt. Now what? Do you deal with the situation or do you manage it? This may sound like the splitting of hairs but the difference can be as wide as the Grand Canyon.
Dealing with something connotes a mindset of reaction. Managing a situation involves a proactive mindset. If we deal with the file server crash we attempt to take steps to resolve the issue. But we don’t necessarily do anything more. Managing the file server crash incorporates steps toward resolution but also includes contingency planning in case those steps aren’t successful as well as an in-depth analysis to understand why the problem arose in the first place. And, the process of managing the situation requires making changes to prevent the problem from occurring again.
Then there’s the “string-along” situation. Recently we lost one leg of a 220 power supply in a building on one of our apartment properties. This caused a partial loss of power for the units that were affected. The repairs involved an electrical parts supplier that had to send us a new switch; an electrical contractor to install the switch; the utility company that had to turn the power off and on to allow the contractor to install the switch, and the city which required approval of the switch before it could be installed. The situation became a complete comedy-of-errors. The electrical supplier sent the wrong switch which delayed repairs. The city was in no hurry to grant approval once the right switch was received. The utility deemed the incident a non-emergency and initially scheduled the shut-down and turn-on for three weeks into the future. Fortunately we raised enough cane to get the utility to accelerate its schedule. Through all of this we heard several “next day” promises from various parties involved. And of course the “next day” turned into the “day after” and the “day after that” – you get the picture.
This is a perfect example of the classic “string-along.” We dealt with the situation rather than managed it and our residents (customers) were inconvenienced for a number of days. Had we chosen to manage properly, someone on our team would have stepped up and “owned” the problem and taken charge of getting it resolved from start to finish. Instead our team members bought into the “string-along” and became spectators in the process. Managing this situation would have involved the team member “owning” the problem preparing a contingency plan that would interrupt the “string-along” and implement different measures to ensure the comfort of our residents.
A mindset of managing tough situations can result in a positive experience for all involved when a member of a team steps up and takes ownership of the situation. Choosing to assertively resolve issues rather than simply dealing what is thrown at us generally produces the desired outcome.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.