Kill it before it kills you

I think a common problem in businesses (startup or established) is that issues don’t get solved quickly enough. I say “solve it now, or accept death as the outcome”.

In my experience, issues arise every day. Some of them big, some of them small. But all of them need to be solved – quickly and efficiently. The longer you dawdle and mess around, the bigger and more complex those problems become, and harder they are to solve.

Some problems I have had to worry about in the past:

Founder/Shareholder causing more trouble than it’s worth. I learned a lot from this issue and have applied my learnings on a very consistent basis. If you have a tough problem, ours was a documented shareholder, solve it QUICKLY. We chose to be passive and address the shareholder slowly and cautiously. The outcome was that it took 4 months to get an answer, the company was closed down and friendships were destroyed. The problem had been going on for ages, and we just ignored it.

I learnt: Always have a comprehensive and detailed shareholders’ agreement. Always approach the person face-to-face, and immediately bring light to the subjects of concern. Set a reasonable due date and enforce this. Be personable, approachable, friendly and frank.

Negative colleague causing the team to get frustrated and angry. In a recent job I took, I also trained a new employee, X. I found this guy lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem, and tried to bear with him and help him along the way. Following my extended training time, I left him be and I was moved to a separate location because I was self-reliant. Over the course of the next few days I had various conversations with other team mates, and consistently heard about X being negative, distracting, disruptive and frustrating. He was bringing a whole lot of negative energy and problems top the team which was cause for concern. This was in contrast to the happy, joyful and often humorous landscape that was the team prior to Employee X arriving.

The following day I asked Employee X if he would join me for a coffee and we had a chat. I was frank and to the point about what was happening and why I thought that was. I also suggested that being more positive, joyful and self-confident would solve the problems in the team and improve his relationship with team members. It was a hard conversation to have, but afterwards there was a drastic change. He was easier to be around, more positive, cheerful and much more self-confident. What a revelation! And, the team was a lot less frustrated and distracted. WIN!

I learnt: That approaching the person head on and privately is an effective way to solve a people problem. In the long-run, it is always best to hire Happy People, and get rid of those that don’t meet expectations.

I find myself using these principles every day. Whenever there is something that doesn’t feel right, a reaction I didn’t expect, a hindrance I need to address, I make an effort to enquire, ask about, and solve these issues. This is working great for me, what about you…?

What issues did you leave too long to address? What successful stories do you have about issues you solved quickly?

One comment “Kill it before it kills you”

[...] – Be decisive. Whenever you have to make a choice, do your research, make a decision, stick with it and do this [...]

April 18, 2011 Reply

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