Any business today is up against one of the brutal crisis, and for a family-owned or individually owned organization, pandemic times will turn out to be hard. It is not just one problem, but it is a multi-layered problem. Even solutions have other fatal side-effects. Every entrepreneur today has to make many decisions like - attack a new market or retreat or stay idle or buy more time. But everyone has an intuitive focus on the working capital and time. If you have less working capital, you have limited time at hand and desperation guides the decision making. If you have a moderate working capital, you may not be desperate, but fear might be guiding your decision.
"To fear change is to fear being challenged. To fear being challenged is to fear growth and new possibilities." -TY Howard
Anxiety and decision making
37 year old Ramen, a start-up founder, has an online meeting with his team of 40 members. He is sitting alone in his office, staring at the empty workstations; you can say by his looks that he is nervous. He has to guide his members who are looking for his directions. How can he lead with strength and calm his impatient employees, when deep inside, he is anxious and scared? He is unable to focus, and he has no answers for the questions his team wants to know. This is the case with millions of entrepreneurs today.
According to many studies in the past and recent time, fear impairs decision making and risk- averse. In the book ‘emotional intelligence’ Daniel Goleman, he described a condition ‘Amygdala Hijack,' it refers to an emotional response that is immediate, overwhelming, and out of measure with the actual stimulus, because it has triggered a significant psychological threat. It blocks the functioning of the rational brain. The only immediate response is to "protect your skin." There is a reason, why labours went out of work immediately after the lockdown was announced. The factory owners fired them to safeguard themselves from losses - saving their skin. The decision didn't work in their favour considering now they are struggling to get labours to work and restart their factory.
Manage anxiety before decision making
Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation and advised all entrepreneurs to align themselves towards a Self Reliant India. He also suggested a stimulus package of INR 20000000000000 (Thirteen Zeros, it won't fit any calculator), which is approximately 10% of India's GDP. This assurance may help set the amygdala right, if not you will have to reset it. It is one of two almond-shaped clusters of nuclei located deep within the temporal lobes of our brain, while I won't go deep into the biology, I will explain its behavior when threatened and when it feels safe. In conditions of fear it responds irrationally to protect, therefore it produces unpleasant and fearful responses. On the contrary, when it feels safe, it does the opposite entirely. The first sign of anxiety is a disturbed sleep cycle.
As a leader, you cannot block your emotions or ignore its play on your rational thinking. You cannot continue to pretend or ignore. It is only wise to accept the anxiety, although it may seem uncomfortable. An excellent way to come to terms with stress is by answering - I am anxious because of; write as many possible reasons. Now, consider that inside of these emotional triggers, there are old childhood experiences. Every time there is a threat to your leadership, you may have been responding it fixedly, it means there is a default action logic that exists and comes into play automatically. Best way to manage it is by labelling the emotional trigger. Once you've tagged your anxiety, you can start pinpointing when it appears and why. Doing deep breathing allows mindfulness and helps cope up with stress effectively. Daniel Goleman has provided us with the five practical steps to manage emotions better: Self- awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy and Social Skills. These are the five most crucial aspects of emotional intelligence. Peeling the layers of anxiety will help you segregate the different aspects of it and gives you the ability and mindfulness to resolve them one after the other. You can now priorities them.
Aligning team and resources
It will take a lot of courage and resilience to find a way out of the situation. The best way to deal with various circumstances is to find different talent available across the organisation. A different member of your team possesses the natural ability making them ideal for different conditions. Identify your leaders within the organisation based on their past performances and expertise. Set a team to explore new opportunities for your organisation, ask them to pivot quickly to remain in business or find the adjustment that makes their business relevant to customers. Allocate members to manage the expectations of employees and customers, allocate members with great attention to detail evaluate the circumstances and risks. Manage the working within the team and inspire them to be more and do more. Handle their emotional response and create conditions that allow them to feel safe so that they are able to perform their task. Initiate reskilling, and retraining people based on the newfound opportunities. Don't lose hope; there are plenty of opportunities in a crisis.
Drive change across the organisation
"Change is hardest at the beginning, messiest in the middle and best at the end." - Robin Sharma
Driving change is difficult because people resist change; they feel they will lose something of value or fear that they may not be able to adapt to the new ways. Underlying fear and uncertainty block logical functionality of mind. Doubt clouds the outcome of the change, they fail to visualise the effect of the change. John P. Kotter has explained the reason why leading change efforts fail and how to go about them.
We need an action plan and create a sense of urgency. The thinking brain of your organisation must explore all opportunities, and the detail-oriented members should examine it. You'll need to convince at least 75% of your team towards the new direction to form a guiding coalition. Assemble a group with shared commitment and enough power to lead the change effort. Please encourage them to work outside of typical hierarchy and indeed outside of the comfort zone.
Help members of the organization and visualise the future; this is the single most effective means to memorise the reason to change. Bank on the thinking brains to develop strategies to realise this vision. Use every possible method to communicate the new idea, if needed, do a rebranding as a symbolic gesture to change management. Micromanagement rarely works in a crisis; every manager, leader in the company must have the autonomy to function to create the desired outcome. Encourage risk-taking and non-traditional ideas.
Acknowledge small wins, it uplifts the mood and the energy vibrates within the organisation. Acknowledge people driving the change. Consolidate all changes to produce more change. New rule books and policies must come into effect to institutionalize the change.
We have been working with my clients and friends in pivoting their business models across verticals such as at-home education, new technology products, retrofitting for industries and customer service and more. We will be happy to be of any help to you in spotting new opportunities for your business, creating new brand identity, digital marketing. Feel free to connect for a free of cost consultation.