I’ll be honest, I do not like the sound of this one bit. Mostly because I have never really considered myself to be a patient person. I grew up in the era when given the choice to get up off the floor or couch, walk to the T.V. set, evaluate my options by turning the channel, and watching, turning, watching (repeat) until something “good” was on, I would just as soon sit and decide I was interested in a random soap opera on my current channel. Although my 8-year-old mind would not have been able to comprehend that someday I could just say, “Hey Siri, turn on Netflix,” I certainly would have opted for that in a heartbeat. Yes, patience has never really been my thing…until I made it so.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still MANY times I fail, but I have tried to be more patient over the last couple of decades. And what, you may ask, led me on my quest for patience? Well, other than the most natural things that come along in life, i.e., marriage, and then those adorable children who force you into the patience corner, my business has probably been the biggest growth mechanism in this regard. Who can relate to dealing with daily covid protocol changes? There was no fast and easy solution. There were many wait-and-see days.
I bought my business while I was still teaching and coaching and had no background in business, so I was kind of learning and stumbling along the way. Clients could easily rattle me and many times I reacted to a difficult conversation instead of responding to it. I just wanted the awkwardness of a conflict to be over and done.
I had to slow down. I mean REALLY slow down and create a process to address all the things I wanted to rush through. I had to move in a slower and more methodical way.
First, I had to recognize what decisions I was feeling rushed about. I am not talking about some basic day-to-day decisions that need to be made, but the ones that really can affect your business. And there were many to choose from: client issues, process changes, need for new technology, hiring needs, etc. As I said, my natural modus operandi was to react. So, I had to learn to see the new “issue” as my next opportunity to make a thoughtful decision.
My next step was to create room to think. This sounds so simple, but it is quite difficult when running a small business. Many days feel like a 3-alarm fire drill. But I had to do this because I knew if I did, I would make a much better decision. Sometimes, it is telling a client, “I want to come up with a great resolution for this, but I am going to need about 24 hours to meet with my team and come up with a plan.” I’d much rather be done with the problem on that call, but it doesn’t allow me any room to think and create a solution.
Lastly, I had to start to think forward. Instead of an instant decision that may just be a short-term solution, I had to think through the long-term consequences of my decision. For example: If an employee was not performing as well as they should, it could be very easy to let them go and just move on. Having hard coaching conversations takes time. Sometimes it is painful. But the disruption caused by a personnel change that might be able to be salvaged is even more painful. I learned to take my time on that one. In the end, they may indeed need to be let go, but I needed to give it every opportunity to succeed.
Here’s what I have found after implementing my plan. We have deeper connections with our clients, candidates, and employees. They know we really do seek to resolve any issue that may come up in a thoughtful manner. They know we care about them as human beings and not just a means to a profit. Our candidates and employees know we believe in investing in their development. On all counts – clients, candidates, and employees – we have seen more loyalty, more referrals, and more repeat customers. Equally important, my staff and I have a more peaceful workspace. That doesn’t mean we don’t have issues, but we implement proactive patience as we navigate our way through it. So, grab your cape, find some room to slow down, think and plan. Make patience one of your superpowers!
Kim Winblood, Mom’s Best Friend Agency