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The High Cost of Doing Nothing

“My employee keeps messing up but I always give her one more chance.”

“He stole from my company but other than that he’s really been great for my business”

“ I keep saying yes to things that I know I should actually be saying no to…”

These are just a few of the comments I’ve heard from both clients and business owners (one gentleman was just a seatmate on a flight home to Seattle) of businesspeople that lament their plight of a major problem or hurdle they can’t seem to resolve or overcome that continues to plague them and /or their business.

Often the complaints vary, though they have one common thread running through them.

The problem has been continuous with no resolve beyond tolerating what they don’t want to tolerate. They will share this unresolved issue or dynamic causes them increased stress, loss of sleep and money, and yet, they still have not come up with a solution even when doing nothing continues to cost them dearly.

Worse yet, if they are in business with a partner, one often takes one extreme stance, “fire him” while the other wants to “keep giving them another chance,” both of which often result in more stress and more money.

While there are times when termination is exactly what needs to happen, there are instances where with some additional knowledge and tools this can be averted with some intervention.

On the other end of the spectrum, allowing one more chance and one more chance ad nauseum comes at the high cost of a lot of additional stress with no change in outcome.

If we are going to allow someone to have another chance, then as business owners and leaders we must also take the time to find out what the real issues are, and to provide new tools accompanied by new boundaries and clarity in order to have reason to “hope for a different outcome.”

Additionally, follow up including accountability measures must be put in place so there are no surprises in the end.

I once coached at a small company who had an employee who committed a pretty egregious violation of company policy. This firm was owned by a married couple. Since partners who own a business together will often bring their relationship dynamics into the business, it was no surprise they each wanted to handle this very different. While one partner wanted to do nothing and give her another chance, the other wanted to immediately terminate.

Given the high cost of turnover; advertising, interviewing, training, along with the cost of mistakes that come with the learning curve of inexperience, it is no wonder that many employers take the “do nothing” route.

There is a better way however. When we take our time and really do a more intentional job vetting we can select the right people for the job beyond just looking at their resume and experience.

We have to move beyond the traditional ways of interviewing. Just as important, learning that we have more options than “doing nothing” when trouble arises with staff or leadership helps us to stay open minded and curious, which motivates us to continue to seek options.

If you tell yourself, “there is nothing we/I can do” generally you will be correct as your brain will stop looking for options, therefore leaving you with the “do nothing option” only.

So what are the high costs of putting your head in the sand? They usually come in the form of increased stress which equals decreased health and wellbeing, increase in financial loss, increase in impatience, irritability and /or feeling not in control of your own life or business, and lastly, real monetary loss as we standby while someone else is acting in a way that is costing us.

There is a better way, and the basics start here.

-Identify the real problem- not the one you think is the problem. Sometimes this alone required intervention from a competent business coach or consultant.

-Imagine your desired outcome. What would be the best outcome in this situation? What would be acceptable outcomes as well?

-Identify the real costs both in health, wellbeing and monetarily of doing nothing.

This means looking at your situation through multiple lenses. How much stress are we taking

on due to this person’s choices or actions? How is this person affecting morale in our company? How are others viewing this person’s actions as well as our inaction as leaders? What is the cost to our health and bottom line?

-Question what your contributions are to the problem or dynamic so that you can begin to take ownership of how you think, feel and make decisions, i.e. what leads up to your inaction potentially.

Many business owners and leaders have years of experience in running their business however still lack the self awareness and tools to run it effectively on the people side of the house.

While many perceive they lack the time or money for coaching or consulting, those that have made the time to invest in themselves and in their business in this way often report an increased feeling of empowerment, improved health and relationships and a more robust bottom line.



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