• Shelby Lancaster

Expect the Unexpected: How to Lead Your Team Through Everyday Challenges

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Last week we spoke about successful teams and operators, outlining the characteristics that lead them to achieve their goals.

This week, Evan Jarecki and Cecil Ledesma are discussing some of the challenges owners and operators experience as they conduct their day-to-day operations, and how they can overcome common, yet adverse obstacles.

So let’s dive in.

In your day-to-day operations, what unexpected difficulties and mishaps have you experienced? What’s your gut reaction to these unexpected obstacles?

For some people, their heart rate jumps up. They might be running around like a chicken with its head cut off, scrambling to patch things together for the day or week. For others, their mind might be flooded with questions like, how will we get it all done? Why can’t we get through one day without a hitch?

Does any of this sound familiar? Maybe you groan on the inside (or the outside!) because it’s the same ‘ole issue popping up again that, for one reason or another, no one can quite get a handle on. Or maybe it feels like every day, there’s something different, and you and your team can’t seem to catch a break. Whether you feel like you’re putting out fires all the time, once in a blue moon, or somewhere in between, we’ve all experienced the headache-inducing frustrations that plague business operations.

Maybe one of your drivers calls out sick at the last-minute, or one just doesn’t show up.

Who will cover their route?

Maybe a personal emergency put one of your managers out of commission for a few days.

Who can fill their shoes in their absence?

Maybe a miscommunication with a distributor caused stock outs for some favorite products of an important account.

How do you prove to the customer that you’re committed to providing a quality service to their employees?

Once these circumstances arise, you have no choice but to react to them, prepared or not. However, a challenging circumstance's impact is never isolated when we’re ill-prepared to face it. Resources and responsibilities must be shuffled around, shifting stress onto other employees. Now they’re wondering how they’ll accomplish their own tasks, which also can’t be ignored.

“It becomes one band-aid over another. It’s purely reactive.”

Cecil Ledesma, VP Strategic Partnerships

When the knee-jerk reaction of panic and stress is in play, unexpected personnel challenges can negatively impact the culture and motivation of a team. And while we'd love to crank up the DeLorean with Doc Brown and Marty and see what's coming down the pipeline, we simply can’t predict the future. Since we can’t know when sticky situations will arise or what they’ll look like, how can we be proactive about them instead of reactive?

By empowering a team through preparation and strong leadership.

Last week's post discussed how successful teams are led by strong, visible, and active leaders who ensure their employees understand how their individual roles contribute to the operation’s overall purpose. Employees that understand this vision exhibit greater internal drive to overcome obstacles as they come up. When everyone is on the same page and moving forward, the adverse effects of unexpected situations can be absorbed easier, and the negative ripple effects of a day or week not going to plan are halted before any permanent damage is done.

For this reason, clear and articulate communication, as well as demonstrated hands-on leadership, is key.

A popular saying proclaims that “people are your greatest asset” - but this article from The Harvard Business Review would disagree, saying instead that “how you empower your people” is your greatest asset.

Empowered people and teams understand the expectations placed upon them, their contributions to the forward-looking vision of the owner or CEO, and how to support each other in the event of adversity.

How do you empower your employees? Let us know on social media - we'd love to hear your thoughts!