When a crisis strikes within our organizations, none of us are exempt from the stress that follows. In such difficult times, strategic thinking often gives way to reactive thinking.
To mitigate the risk of a repeat crisis down the road, it’s important to dig deep to determine the root of the problem. As you investigate the cause behind a crisis, you’ll likely encounter some tough realizations about your team and your processes. However, your search for the truth might become a great opportunity for growth, but only if you cultivate the proper mindset. As you navigate this uncertain territory, you should always be mindful of whether you’re fact-finding or fault-finding. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
“Am I Asking the Right Questions?”
As a leader, you instinctually are able to identify problems and quickly begin seeking solutions. This expeditious problem-solving is part of being an effective leader. However, when trying to find the root cause of a major crisis that could cause lasting harm to your organization, it’s crucial to take your time. Are you trying to find the root cause of the problem? If not, shift your focus.
Rather than focusing your attention on the obvious and immediate cause of the problem, digging deeper to find the root will help you solve the issue and also allow you to prevent a future reoccurrence. Remember, your goal is to find the truth, and that’s often much more difficult than simply finding someone to blame. For example, instead of attributing a crisis solely to a staff member’s mistake, dig deeper by asking why and how this mistake could have happened in the first place.
“Do I Want to Punish or Push Forward?”
Organizational crises can strike from both employee and procedural problems, and sometimes even a combination of both. While it goes without saying that disciplinary actions can and should happen when needed, ultimately your goal should be to move forward. Even the most difficult crises can be opportunities for growth and improvement. A mistake that causes a lost client can be an opportunity to focus on staff training and improving your sales funnel. However, this kind of growth can come only when you’re focusing on setting up your organization for future success, not punishing those within it for past mistakes. Try shifting away from the punishment mindset (unless absolutely warranted) and focus instead on creating a plan to push forward. Keeping a proactive and future-focused mindset is key when it comes to successfully overcoming hurdles.
“Is This a Productive Conversation?”
We all know that tempers can quickly flare in a stressful situation. No one is immune to stress, and during times of crisis, life within our organizations can be difficult at best. However, as a leader, you know that your organization’s success rides on your ability to keep a cool head. As you search for the root cause of a crisis, the way you speak to your employees matters more than ever. If you feel yourself getting stressed, always take a deep breath and keep your emotions in check. After all, keeping things respectful is a surefire way to foster open dialogue. The questions you ask are important, but your delivery is just as impactful. Make sure that you’re truly listening to your employees, as well as treating them the way you’d want to be treated (i.e. as an adult who made an honest mistake).
As with so many seemingly negative situations in life, a crisis in our organizations can actually have a silver lining. Of course, turning a negative into a positive largely rests on our ability as leaders to quickly and thoughtfully react. During a crisis, it’s crucial that you avoid a blame-focused mentality. It’s the quickest way to stop improvement dead in its tracks and lower employee engagement. Instead, consciously approach your next crisis with a careful, productive mindset to ensure that you emerge on the other side with a stronger organization and team.