When your business doesn’t feel well … you don’t feel well

sickLike humans, businesses can have serious health issues too, like being cash starved, burdened with crushing debt, and a toxic culture. I always say, “My heart beats along with my business.” When it’s healthy, profitable and fun, I feel great. When it’s sick … I feel sick. If you’re a business owner, you know exactly what I mean.

If your business hasn’t been feeling well lately, then you’re feeling it too. Maybe your business is just out of shape and lethargic because it’s carrying too much baggage. You feel concerned, a bit stressed and perhaps even frustrated. If your business is sick, the concern, stress and frustration are magnified. And if your business is seriously sick … perhaps life-threatening sick … the stress and sleepless nights can be debilitating.

I know, just reading this stuff can make you queasy. That’s why I write it, because business problems are real, become progressively worse over time, and never fix themselves. You can’t be an effective leader when you just don’t feel well, and especially if you are downright sick.

The only way to feel better and get back in the leadership game is to take the necessary action to fix what ails your business. That’s where things get tricky. No matter how big or small the fix, fixing anything in a business means that stuff needs change … and change can easily add to your stress. And then there’s the “what if’s.” What if it doesn’t work? What if my employees don’t like it? What if it makes things worse? All this second-guessing does is keep you stuck as you stare at the launch button for change. In the coaching business we refer to these scenarios as “talking an owner off the ledge.”

So, if any of the preceding describes you and your company, follow these six steps to fix what’s broken, take back control of your company and regain your personal wellbeing:

  1. Fix the nasty stuff first: The nasty stuff is the problem. The small stuff can wait. If it’s a toxic employee, manager or spending problem … fix it. I mean throw everything you’ve got at the solution until the problem is gone. Most leaders know exactly what they need to do but wimp out at the last minute. Of course fixing the nasty stuff first can be scary, but it’s the nasty stuff that’s making you and the business sick. Allowing the nasty stuff to hang around one more day means one more day before the healing process begins. Fix the nasty stuff first. No compromise.
  2. Check in and lead: The nasty stuff happened on your watch and while you weren’t feeling well, you weren’t being the leader your team and company needed. It’s easy to check out as a leader when you feel beaten up. Checking back in means stepping up, taking ownership for allowing the nasty stuff to happen in the first place … and re-engaging as your company’s leader. It’s time to show your team that you’re back and decisively moving forward.
  3. Plot a new course: When you jettison the nasty stuff, you grab everyone’s attention. Heck, you finally rocked the boat and shook things up. Your team needs to know what’s going on and what this means for them and the company. More than anything, they need to know where the company is going. I could have labeled this step “create a new vision” but plotting a new course accomplishes more. To plot a course there needs to be a destination. Your team needs to know both. The course will give them the next steps and the steps after that. Creating clarity is the quickest way to eliminate uncertainty.
  4. Communicate like never before: If there ever was a time for you to be on your soapbox communicating, sharing your thoughts and ideas … this is it. Heck, you just slew the dragon and set your company free. You conquered the source of your fear and frustration. Your confidence is rushing back. As a business coach, I’ve seen this scenario play out in a matter of days. It is incredibly empowering and shortens the duration of the culture shift that you initiated.
  5. Start knocking off the small stuff: Okay, you’ve got momentum. Your team is rallying behind you. Engage your team in knocking off the small stuff … one fix approximately every 90 days. This creates focus and urgency on the fix and gives it the best chance of sticking long term.
  6. Distance yourself but never forget the dark days: The more distance you put between you and the dark days the better. However, as progress is made there is a tendency to perceive the fix as complete before it truly is. Always remember that your decisions, thinking and behavior played a key role in creating the nasty stuff. Like any bad habit, it takes time, often years, for new thinking and behavior to lock in. Even then, old behaviors lurk below the surface waiting to resurface. The dark days should always be your reminder to stay the course. No compromise.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click below to comment.

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They will appreciate it.


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