By Melanie Benson Strick.STRATEGY MAGAZINE. Sep, 14 2011
“I’ve learned over the years that a breakdown means that something very valuable is happening – I have new insight into how I can improve my process, my attitude, or my belief so that problem never happens again. Here are six sanity-saving scenarios that can turn that breakdown into a breakthrough.”
There I was. Depressed, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Despite my best efforts to have a smooth running ship and organize my event, I realized I had a significant breakdown in my process. I admit, it wasn’t the end of the world, but come on, I teach this stuff! It was one week before we went live on our new program, we were preparing the workbooks for production, and I realized, no one ordered the right tabs! Yikes!
It got me thinking how a client of mine had shared a great story about their direct mail marketing campaign. A lot of money had been invested in buying a list of qualified candidates. But every step of the way there was breakdown in the process – the guy who formatted the list didn’t set it up right, the assistant didn’t have the proper envelopes, and they had no postage when they needed it. My client laughed as he told me this, but I knew he was frustrated!
Well, I’ve learned over the years that a breakdown means that something very valuable is happening – I have new insight into how I can improve my process, my attitude, or my belief so that problem never happens again.
Let’s look at a few examples of how breakdowns can occur in our business or life.
- A business partnership goes from the honeymoon phase to the divorce phase, all from a simple miscommunication around “who is doing what” with the budget.
- After training your new team for six months, you realize a key person continues to not follow through on your requests in a timely manner. You are worried you may have to let them go, even though they seemed like a perfect fit at the interview.
- Many late nights and nose-to-the-grind-stone days later, you realize that your big speaking debut will not be flawless because your brochures and products did not get shipped by the supplier.
- A wonderful new client suddenly becomes a nightmare when they keep adding new deliverables to the project agreement – but don’t want to pay you any additional money.
These are typical scenarios that many of my clients and associates have experienced. What I have noticed is there can be a difference in how people handle these types of breakdowns. Some people might freak out, scream and yell, and blame everyone else for the breakdown. That tends to be the “victim-mentality” type who struggle in life. The “success-oriented” type is the one who says, “OK, how can I make my process better?” Here are Six Sanity-Saving Scenarios that can turn that breakdown into a breakthrough.
1. Strengthen Communication. When you have a miscommunication with someone, it is usually a sign that someone “assumed” something along the way. Make sure that you use the “listen first, speak second, confirm your message last” method to make sure everyone is on the same page.
2. Delegate Effectively. There are 3 key elements for effective delegation to your virtual assistant: what you want, when it is due, and how to communicate completion. If you miss one of these steps, you will most likely have problems with the tasks you delegate.
3. Improve Skills. Often times, when something is not done properly, it is because the person doesn’t know how to do it. Find out what skills, education or training they need so they can complete the job properly.
4. Improve Your System. If the skills are there, then most likely the system (or the process to complete it) is broken. Identify in writing using a checklist, flow chart or written request what exactly needs to be done. Make sure that every element that can impact the quality of the end result is included.
5. Slow Down. Ever heard the saying that someone is like a “bull in a china shop?” That means they are racing forward breaking everything in their path. Often people move so fast they leave a massive path of carnage – including their teams, their clients and their families – in the wake: the key is remembering Rome was not built in a day.
6. Be a Leader. If you feel like mutiny on the bounty, perhaps your virtual team doesn’t understand the vision anymore. Being a leader is inspiring others to support and follow your vision. If they aren’t following, you are not leading. Revitalize the vision – it will work wonders.
The bottom line is that life happens and breakdowns will occur. We have all heard the saying, “breakdown, breakthrough.” Well it is true. I have experienced enough adversity in my life to fill an ocean liner. It is up to us to choose to respond to these situations with a positive attitude to make them work for us – not against us. So take those challenging situations and look for the opportunity to strengthen your personal mindset and your business systems.
Now, it’s your turn. How will you take a breakdown in your life and turn it into a breakthrough? I encourage you to take note of where the problems occur and brainstorm with your team, your family, or your friends to come up with possible “breakthroughs!”