Monday, August 8, 2011

Crisis Management Lessons from my 2-year-old

I have a very cute, curious, and high-energy 2-year-old daughter (pictured below), and this is what she taught me about handling bad, negative, or even crisis-level situations.

When you're two, mom leaving for a few hours can be traumatic--a true crisis. The first few times my wife left me in charge at home and my daughter began to cry, I thought my job was to distract here. She wanted to know where mommy was, and I would try to color a picture with her, watch a cartoon, go on a walk, or anything else to get her mind away from her mother. Inevitably, she would remember mom wasn't home and start crying all over again.

Then I tried a different tactic--tackling the issue head-on. What did I have to lose?

When she started to ask where mommy was, rather than ignore the question and go into my distraction efforts, I told her exactly where mommy was. She went shopping, she's visiting her sister, she went to the church, etc. What ensued surprised me. My daughter wanted to talk more about what mommy was doing, and, after five minutes, without shedding a single tear, we would move on to something else with little mention of mommy until she came home. Crisis averted :-)

When something bad happens in your business, don't ignore it and hope it goes away. If a customer gives you a negative review, don't go into depression and wish it would go away. Face it head on. Be honest. Answer the real questions. Don't skirt around the issue, because, ultimately, those who care will realize you never answered their real questions or took their concerns and issues seriously.

Certainly addressing a crisis or other negative event requires diplomacy and communicating with the right parties, but those two cannot replace the truth. And, the great thing about tackling it head-on is that there will be no more questions. You can move on, and so can everybody else.