The first two weeks of July last year were most challenging for me and our business team.
One after another we had bad news coming in quick succession and things were going beyond our control. It’s true that bad news come in multiples Those two weeks we had a total of four instances in quick succession which disturbed our positive momentum.
One of our big consignments got stuck in customs, due to some paperwork issue. Generally we are very careful with paperwork but since we were delayed in production, there was some error due to which our consignment was held back. Now it was beyond the standard 6 days it generally takes for us to clear the same. The delivery deadline to our customer had passed and we were under tremendous stress as client had begun asking us for the delivery. The customs charged us penalty to the tune of 300% of the original imports duty. That meant a huge loss for us as this was a large shipment in value.
A project done recently for one of our largest customer based in Chennai had some issues and I had to immediately go and rectify the same. That day I traveled to Chennai for a day’s visit to meet them and try to get this right. But it didn’t really work out. We ran the risk of losing our contract for future projects.
That same week for some other order, a factory manufacturing one of our products was not able to get the right quality output despite assuring us the same in the beginning. We had already accepted the order and could not go back on our promise. We were stuck on this,
And if that was not enough, the day I returned from my Chennai trip after a tiring and disappointing day, one of our key employees puts his paper and wanted to quit the next day!
Just writing all this brings back memories of that stressful day! It was really crisis situation. I had no clue how we could get through all this. But it had to be handled. Sitting on my chair with the employee in front of me with his resignation paper I felt like shouting at him and telling him to get lost. Why did he have to do it that day? If only he could have waited for a week more. But I did not react. I told him we will discuss little later.
Once he left I tried to gather myself. Drank some water, checked some emails and stared at the resignation paper. I was only looking at the paper, ,my mind was somewhere else. At that point i remembered a sermon our local priest had delivered a few weeks ago on a Sunday morning.
He told us a story about a retired military officer who had a radical view of handling difficult situations in his personal and professional life. For him every difficult situation was an opportunity to prove himself how strong he is as a person and to develop himself into a better human being. He in fact use to give talks in colleges and management institutions on the same.
He mentioned how we come across these difficult situations at regular intervals in our lives. Sometimes they comes in quick succession which makes one really stressed out. At such moments, one can easily lose his balance, become emotionally weak, react negatively and end up making wrong decisions which one may end up regretting later.
So he always used to suggest the method of looking at these difficult situations as challenges which have to be overcome. He said that you have to believe that its God’s way of training you to be mentally and physically fit. And one needs to accept them in that spirit. He further mentioned that if one changes his belief about handling these difficult situations instead of losing something one can actually learn more out of it and grow as a person. According to him it 100% works, no two ways about it.
I was still staring at that resignation letter as the entire episode of the army officer talk went through my mind. I was feeling less stressful, as I now looked at these 4 difficult situations as challenges which have to be handled by our team. The very thought that we could learn something new and that we would grow as an individual and team through this process motivated me. I actually looked forward now to handle all the challenges with my team.
After a quick sip of water, I called the employee who had offered to quit and had a one on one chat with him. Heard him patiently for his reasons for leaving. Some of which were genuine, I addressed most of his immediate concerns. And post that tried to make him understand to reconsider his decision requested him to give it a month more to see how he feels about it. Also I explained him the new projects he would handle in the coming few weeks. He agreed to stay back.
The customs case was a bit complicated; we got a consultant on board to solve the issue with us. We worked with him for the next few days. Numerous visits to customs and making them understand on the issue finally paid off. We managed to get possession of goods with only minor additional outgo. The consultant whom we had hired for this project has now become our permanent service provider who supports our clearing services.Post a few days of search my partner was able to find an alternate supplier to manufacture our product who could match the quality parameters and we could deliver the order to client’s satisfaction.
For the Chennai client we tried our best to not lose our relationship, we accepted our mistake and did not argue further. We faced the penalty and moved on. Thankfully they still remain our clients and provide us continuous business support. We learnt a lot from that mistake.
In a month’s time our team was able to successfully handle all the 4 challenging tasks. As I look back today am very proud of how we managed to handle this challenging period. The most important learning was we did not lose control of the situation, we approached it calmly. It would have been very easy to lose my temper on the employee and ask him to leave right away but taking up this as a challenge helped me look at the whole aspect from a positive point of view
But the best part about handling all of this was the tremendous value addition they bought in as a person, a team and for the business. What we learnt from each of these cases helped us big way in our business going forward.
For this very reason every time a difficult situation arises, we take it up as a challenge thank god for the opportunity. Cause it’s only through facing these challenges that one can learn much more about life and business much beyond any books or TV show
As they say when the goin gets tough ….the tough gets going…