Have you ever seen a little kid hide their face, thinking that if they do that, no one will see them? Not facing up to issues is a big like that. Not only do they keep on coming, but the longer you hide from issues, the bigger they get. And eventually, just like with the little kid, they’re eventually so close that you have no choice but to deal with them…but on their terms, not yours.
So what can you do? It depends on the issue. Is it a potential issue, or a risk? Something that could go wrong? Then the best course of action is to investigate. You need to determine whether the issue or outcome you’re worried about is real. That takes research, or seeking feedback, or plain old listening. Once you’ve established that what you’re worried about could happen, it’s time to do a risk assessment. That entails two parts:
- Evaluating the degree of risk, or probability
- Deciding how much tolerance you have for taking the risk, knowing the degree of probability that it will happen
Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to make a more informed plan of action, rather than just waiting and hoping.
On the other hand, there are issues that you’ve already created for yourself. The odds, or probability, of an issue directly caused by your actions (a customer service error, or a major faux pas with your audience or stakeholders) being harmful to your business, are 100%. At that point, you need to fix it. The classic apology strategy goes like this:
- Express regret. Say you’re sorry. Say it publicly.
- Explain what you did wrong so the person/people wronged know you understand.
- Acknowledge your responsibility to fix it.
- State very clearly that you will commit to not doing it again.
- Make an offer of reparation – don’t just fix it, but take the penalty.
- Ask for their forgiveness.
And then, most importantly of all, don’t demand that their forgiveness is given on your timeline. And don’t hide, hoping it will all blow over. It won’t. No matter how much you hide, the injury will never go away, but by taking an active part, you can help it to heal. That means getting back to business, doing your work, and continuing to keep the commitments you’ve made as part of your apology – no matter how much it stings your ego to do so.
I’m Megann Willson, and I’m one of the Partners here at PANOPTIKA. We help our clients see everything in their business environment, so they can make better decisions and forge stronger relationships with their customers, clients, and constituents. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Or you can receive weekly news by signing up with the orange button, below.