How to prepare for unforeseen problems in your business

by Ana Lopez

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

Preparation is an investment and it will be your greatest ally when problems arise in your business. Business will always have a human element, and because there is no perfect human being, it is guaranteed that businesses will encounter unforeseen problems.

The best way to solve these problems is not to be reactive after the problem takes root, but to be proactive by preparing for these problems in advance. Here are some of the actions I’ve seen in my own business that not only helped keep things running smoothly when hurdles popped up, but actually helped bypass issues entirely and ensure the success of our business.

Related: 5 Effective Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected

1. Combine starters with finishers

One of the unexpected difficulties as a business leader is being strategic in how you formulate your teams. A team’s chemistry doesn’t just come down to background and personalities, but a team’s effectiveness is determined by the skills of the people who are paired together. Some people are great starters – they’re always ready to get started and take on additional responsibilities. They are not afraid of an increased workload. However, due to their nature, they may have difficulty completing projects, or they may be too thinly spread to continue.

On the other hand, while finishers won’t be the first to raise their hand to take on an extra workload, they excel at following through and persevering. They are the people who are great at executing and making sure a project is completed within a deadline. Instead of penalizing starters and finishers in the areas that need improvement, an effective business leader will pair starters with finishers in a team. This takes time and observation to get to know your employees and how they work, but it’s the perfect recipe for avoiding problems later on.

2. End meetings with an action item

Meetings aren’t effective if they don’t have a set structure to follow. We noticed a lack of measurable progress in our own company meetings. I realized we needed to be more focused with these meetings, so we formulated a plan: shorten the meetings to a maximum of 30 minutes, assign one person to lead the meeting, and assign another person to email a summary afterwards .

The most important change we’ve made? Each meeting had to end with one action point to make the company a little better. The action item needed a timeline and designation of who would be responsible for the action item. We didn’t limit them to what the action point should be — the action point could make the business more profitable, speed up a process, or iron out a recurring problem.

This was when we started to see notable improvements from these meetings, and it’s one of the most proactive measures we’ve taken to anticipate potential issues in the business.

Related: How To Prepare For An Unexpected, Unwelcome And Unwelcome Business Setback

3. Provide clear guidelines and benchmarks for your employees

Create a culture around winning. People feel good when they accomplish things, so it’s your job to make sure there’s a structure to get the work done. For each position you create, outline the responsibilities and guidelines that rest on the employee, and establish benchmarks that help you measure employee performance and growth. Clarify in the job description what skills and requirements are needed to get the job done and make sure they have a good understanding of these when they start the job.

Regularly interact with employees and give them feedback on how they are performing against the job requirements. You can use metrics such as sales numbers, customer satisfaction, the scope or quality of project completion, or how well they respond to deadlines. Highlight their victories and highlight what they do well.

People just want to get things done because it makes them feel good; develop a winning culture by setting reasonable expectations rather than repeatedly assigning tasks to your employees without clear guidelines.

4. Keep open transparency and communication with your team

The single most important thing any business can do to prepare for unforeseen issues is to maintain a clear line of communication. Ask your employees, “What can I do better? How can I make your job easier?” Be open to criticism and willing to act on what they say.

Chances are, this will make your employees more willing to listen to you and accept criticism from you. If you show them that you want to improve for them, they will do the same for you. The entire company will function better if everyone helps each other to get the best out of themselves for the betterment of the company.

Consider asking your employees: Do they have a role they enjoy? Are they spread too thin to perform? By being transparent in your communications, you can take your business to the next level by resolving existing problems while avoiding future problems.

Related: 4 ways to prepare now so your business survives the unexpected later

Preparing for unforeseen problems is a crucial aspect of running a successful business. No matter how well-funded your business and how good your systems and processes are, unexpected challenges arise shall come on.

Anticipate growth and potential issues by rethinking how you run meetings, deliberately building teams, and providing clear guidelines and communication with your employees. If you’ve pre-scaled for growth, you’ll confidently overcome these hurdles.

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