High Performance: Managing the daily disaster

Photo: iStock.com/ronniechua
Photo: iStock.com/ronniechua

In our industry, something bad happens almost every day. Someone is going to make a bad decision. Some machine is going to fail. Some customer is going to lose their mind. Some vendor is going to let you down. Someone is not going to show up for work. Disaster may be too strong of a word but is there ever a day without a semi-major issue to deal with?

This reality of our industry is almost unavoidable. Even with the very best business practices, systems, procedures and cultural norms, things happen. Weather messes up the schedule. Tires go flat. People make mistakes. Expectations are often tough to manage. There are too many moving parts in our businesses to be able to sail through every day without a hitch.

If this is true, we should expect there to be one or more big issue every day. We shouldn’t be surprised. We shouldn’t get an attitude about it. We shouldn’t let it ruin our day. If we do, we’re going to live a pretty miserable life. If every day is worse than the one before, it may be time to re-evaluate our approach.

In fact, we should be able anticipate the issues of the day. We should attempt to predict them. If you knew what the issue of the day were going to be, wouldn’t you try to do something proactive to prevent it? Of course you would. Is this possible? Yes, to some degree.

Experienced managers are better able to predict issues but even rookies may be able to do so if they’re thinking about it. It doesn’t take a seasoned pro to know that asking a new person with no experience to prune a high-end HOA without supervision is a recipe for disaster. Usually, a quick look at the schedule will give us enough insight into where the issues are going to be that day.

What if you took a minute each morning to identify the most likely issues to occur? What if you didn’t flip out when an issue — or a disaster — presents itself? What if you simply saw it for what it is — an unavoidable reality?

Am I saying that there is no value in problem-avoidance training, root-cause analysis, incident investigations, policies, procedures and systems? Of course not. All I’m saying is that even with all of those things firmly in place, there is still going to be the issue of the day to deal with. Expect it. Predict it. Manage it.

Now go forth.

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Phil Harwood

Phil Harwood is a Senior Advisor with Tamarisk Business Advisors. Contact him at phil.harwood@tamariskadvisors.com.

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