Do you have any idea how many businesses I go into where the environment is out of control? I mean, you walk in and you can feel the confusion. You stand and watch and see the emotional interchanges that are going on.
Most don’t seem to understand the need to create an environment that is calm. I know, I know — you are thinking this guy doesn’t live in the real world. There is no such thing as calmness around here. All I do is move from one crisis to another.
That is not how things have to be! That is how leadership has designed the environment. You see, any business is simply an environment that is decision-driven or crisis-driven. The difference is the style of leadership.
Show me an environment that is crisis-driven and I will show you a place where people are constantly involved in emotional collisions. Someone is blaming someone else for what is happening. No one is really looking for resolution; their only concern is protecting their territory.
Someday leadership is going to fully understand that any time the environment is out of control, the customer gets punished. People who are caught up in a world of blame lose their creativity. People who are into turf management spend more time protecting their turf than they do helping the customer.
It cannot be about what is right or wrong; it must be about creating an environment that is designed to bring the customer back time and time again.
That means creating an environment that is driven by a calm spirit, where all people are centered on the mission of creating an environment that makes the customer want to come back.
So, how do you create this calm environment?
It all starts here. Each year, I take on five people I spend the year with. When I arrive, I go in looking to see the strengths or weaknesses of certain things. One of those things is the level of communication. For there to be a customer-driven environment, there has to be calm, clear communication.
What does that mean? It means leadership has established a relationship with the people where all issues can be put on the table and openly resolved.
It means policies and procedures are more than booklets that get thrown away or just laid aside. It means everyone knows these are the principles they are going to be held to. If they don’t live up to the principles, their behavior will be confronted.
Clear, calm communication means issues are addressed while they are a concern and not allowed to escalate to a problem. While anything is a concern, it is viewed mentally first and emotionally second. When it becomes a problem, emotions take over and perceptions turn the negative.
There has to be calm, clear communication.
Agendas must be in sync.
All behavior has an agenda. Each action takes thought; each action is looking for a result.
All humans collide at the point of agendas. Many, many times the confusion is not about the issue that is being discussed; it is actually about the agenda each person brings. As long as the agendas are not in sync, everyone is fighting for their way. As long as the agendas are not in sync, there is no common ground where all can come and find a solution.
To create a calm environment everyone involved must share the same agenda. That agenda must not be about right and wrong; it must be about resolution. That agenda must not be about position; it must be about everyone being willing to put their ego aside and focus on finding the resolution to the situation.
To achieve this, the situation must be stated and an agreement reached on what the purpose of the discussion is about. Then, and only then, will you be able to calmly face what is, and search together for what is the best action to take.
Listening is more important than talking.
It has been said over and over and the truth is still as strong today as it was years ago. God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. I teach people each day when your mouth is open, your ears are normally closed. When everyone is talking at the same time, there is no communication; there is an emotional war being fought with words. That is only going to increase the emotions and make people fight even harder to say what they feel. In the end, each walks away with their opinion and no resolution. That means everyone has just wasted their time and punished each other. That is not healthy.
Manage concerns, not crisis.
A concern is an issue looking for understanding; a crisis is an issue that has escalated to a problem. As long as something is a concern, it can be confronted and a resolution found. But, when it becomes a problem, emotions have taken over, and the desire for clarity is no longer driving the discussions.
To keep the environment calm, make sure all issues are handled as concerns. Lose that, and you lose control.
Remember — calmness is the result of everyone sharing a common agenda and working together to find a solution.