Yes, dealing with a crisis can be painful, but the longer you wait to deal with it, the worse it will become. Get to the point. (Or as Tom would say, “Bad news is better than stale bad news.”) (Editor’s note: This is not one of those crossover blog posts that attempts to solve all kinds of family and personal issues at the same time as conveying a poignant business story but it kind of works that way; telling your significant other you accidentally poisoned their cat immediately is better than waiting until after three vet visits. Also, try not to accidentally poison your significant other’s cat. It’s usually not good for the relationship.) More often than not, relating bad news through the appropriate channels quickly is your best course of action.
Here are some common things that suck which we avoid:
- A client cancels an order
- You are going to miss a deadline
- A project was a miserable failure
There are countless instances of the kind of issue above. One thing they all have in common is that dealing with them sooner is ALWAYS better. Note the obnoxious CAPS over there. That was not an accident.
I used to tell members of my teams, “Tell me the truth. The truth I can deal with.” As a manager (or an owner of a company, or a team leader, etc) the sooner you know about a snake under a rock the sooner you can plan to either:
- Run frantically away
- Call someone to remove said snake
- Find a rake and remove said snake yourself
If you don’t KNOW about the snake, well, the ending of the story is somewhat obviously not as happy.
I know this seems short and sweet compared to some of my musings, but the moral to this story is actually pretty simple. The sooner you communicate possible problems, the sooner they can be dealt with. Is it uncomfortable? Sometimes. But as I opened, bad news is better than stale bad news.
Can you think of a time where you delayed dealing with a situation and ended up in a more painful situation afterwards? Can you recount a situation where you handled an awkward or painful problem directly and saw positive results? Share your experiences in the comments below.
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