Every summer, I start planning for the following year at Any Lab Test Now, including setting goals and mapping out a timeline for new projects and initiatives. A yearly survey we conduct with franchisees provides valuable feedback on how we can help them grow their business. In fact, right now our franchisees are growing so fast, adding support staff has become a top priority. Once we make sure our objectives are aligned, we set the roadmap for the following year.
But then… the inevitable speedbump. There is no such thing as operating on cruise control in business, or there shouldn’t be. While hitting speedbumps might be aggravating, it also offers an opportunity to grow leadership skills and improve company-wide systems and processes.
Here are a few pit-stops I make as I navigate speedbumps at Any Lab Test Now.
Listen. To prevent a speedbump from becoming a brick wall, you need to be willing to listen. This year, we heard from franchisees that a new point-of-sale system we had implemented wasn’t performing as needed. It was cumbersome and frustrating for everyone. As a leader, you can choose to put your head in the sand and ignore the issue, or listen, and address it head-on.
Be Transparent/Accountable. When a speedbump prevents a company from meeting its objectives, a leader needs to step forward, be transparent about the issue at hand and be accountable for the problem, if warranted. It turns out we adopted the wrong platform for the job function. That simple step of taking responsibility for an issue earns respect and confidence from employees and franchisees.
Be Collaborative. The best solutions come when those affected are involved in the process. Making decisions behind closed doors without consulting our franchisees leaves our valued owners feeling disenfranchised and can breed mistrust. Conversely, collaboration builds trust and yields better results.
Take Action. Talking, listening, and meeting become meaningless if action isn’t taken. Together, we came up with an interim plan B and a long-term solution that our home office could execute so the processes and profitability would improve. That bump is now in the rearview mirror.
Bump It Up! Remember, those speedbumps can do more than slow you down. They can be catalysts to bump up your business, through a great new initiative or a fantastic new hire. Our rapid growth led to hiring Terri McCulloch, our new Vice President of Business Development, whose work elevates the entire organization.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is the value in being nimble. With planned objectives in place, but having fluidity built in, we can make adjustments and even take a risk that could drive future growth. Thanks to those speedbumps, I am a better leader and our company is stronger than ever.