The Fog of Uncertainty: Ideas for Dealing with Uncertainty to Reach your Destination

By Dana Borowka – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

The idea for this article came while driving up the coast towards Malibu, California. The morning sun was rising and I noticed a fog bank several miles off the coast. It was interesting to see it from this perspective. The wall of fog stood before the magnificent coast line with many miles of visibility mountainsin both directions. As the sun continued to rise, the top of the fog bank was whisking around which made for a beautiful scene. As I headed up into the mountains to get to my destination, I kept looking back to see how it was progressing. As I ascended in elevation, I could clearly see the fog was covering the ocean as far as the eye could see. The fog was progressing towards the shore and in just a matter of a few minutes what was clear visibility along the coast was now completely obscured.

Have you ever had this experience in either your business or personal life? You have a course, a plan, a direction and then… the fog rolls in. What do you do? I’d like to share an experience. Then we’ll jump into some specific steps that you can consider and talk over with your team members as we move into the new year.

I have been an avid sailor and that usually leads to getting bigger boats over time. We traveled to San Diego, California to purchase our next boat that was 28 feet in length. We needed to get the boat to Marina del Rey, California which is an 100+ mile journey. We had planned on bringing it up over a two day period. Our plans included having all the appropriate tools – a navigational chart, GPS, fog horn, radar deflector mounted on the mast but we had no radar. When we woke up in the early morning hours to set sail on our sailboatjourney and opened the hatch we could barely see the boat next to us – the fog was so thick that visibility was only 15-20 feet at best. We waited a bit for the fog to clear but we had a schedule to keep. So with charts and GPS in hand we set out and made our way through the harbor very carefully. Our charting was spot on but we had a spotter/listener on the bow to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Things were going well until we hear the sound of waves crashing – we were off course and fortunately we had our spotter on the bow. We adjusted our course immediately and made it out to sea. The fog cleared and we had porpoises swimming all around us with clear sailing and visibility. On the final leg home, we hit fog again. This time we made it to the breakwater which appeared right in front of us by only 100 feet or so. It was just where we thought it would be thanks to the planning.

Uncertainty can seem to be a constant theme. Yet if we have a plan and remain flexible with our goals then we can make it through the fog and reach our destination safe and sound. By using the ideas we are about to share you’ll know if your organization is heading towards the rocks, the open sea or on a clear course towards your destination.

Think for a moment about the various components of a boat that are needed in order to keep it afloat and heading in the intended direction. Observe how they compare to your organization.

Components of a Vessel

Hull – Need to have a structure that can endure and thrive in the elements.
Fuel – The energy needed to move the vessel forward and towards its destination.
Crew – The crew will either make sure the ship reaches its destination in a timely manner or cause it to go off course or cause an incident that could result in loss of resources.

oceanThe Changing Environment

Water is the most unstable surface on our planet. No matter how much planning a business does a rogue wave can come along and cause havoc. This might be changes in the market, unhappy clients, distribution channels, technology, financial, etc. Preparation can only go so far yet if your organization has one key ingredient you’ll be able to survive and thrive beyond your wildest dreams.

Key Ingredient to Thrive

The answer always comes back to having the right crew on board. It all begins with the selection process, mentoring and staff development. If this is done correctly or you have the right people with potential for growth, you’ll not only make it through to 2011… you’ll also be ready to ride the wave of 2012 and beyond! Let’s take a look at how this works.

By having the right crew on board, you’ll have:

♦ Contributors – That will help the ship reach its course through innovation, ingenuity, timely fulfillment of tasks, follow through, etc.
♦ Happy customers – They’ll keep coming back due to the outstanding service and quality of the product.
♦ Happy employees – They’ll go the extra mile for the organization and its customers. This also leads to positive word of mouth that can attract top talent.
♦ Open Minded Culture – Problem solving is the key to anticipate needs, deal with weather changes, being open to adapting to the environment.
♦ Profitability – You’ll meet your organization’s goal and objective where everyone is rewarded for doing a great job and your organization will be able to continue to provide services and products with the opportunity to visit other destinations in the future.

An organization can build a sturdy ship but without the right people behind the scenes it won’t leave port. All this starts with the captain of the ship and with its officers. If they select the correct crew up front, they know the job will get done correctly, in a timely manner and the work can be trusted. Can you trust that your crew will do their job not only correctly but in a timely manner? Do they also contribute ideas for further improvement so you can get the maximum value from each individual?

If the answer is “I’m not sure” then your answer may be reflective of the future survival of your vessel. Every organization must have all hands on deck with crew members that are excited and grateful to be aboard and have the ability to perform the best they can.

A Whale of a Tale for Teamwork

A manager once had an outstanding team but always told everyone what to do. This person didn’t listen, didn’t ask questions, demanded a higher level of volume without asking if the organization could handle it and created a closed environment. Over time things started to slip through the cracks, customers were not getting the attention they needed, whalesales slipped, people started to leave and the organization began to develop a bad reputation where recruitment became a problem. Upper management stepped in and started to ask the team members for their feedback. It turned out that the manager was not a good fit for that position and was transitioned into another department. When the new manager was selected, it was based not only on experience but also the ability to work with others. They learned that it is vital to understand a person’s work style and how they interact with others in order to have a high performing team. If just one person isn’t “playing well in the sandbox” the effects can ruin a brand and effect sales and future growth of an organization.

A Checklist for Success

♦ When selecting the crew – have a clear understanding of the ideal crew member and have a system and process to assure you have selected the correct crew members. This can be done through interviewing and asking questions for specific examples and compare those answers to what an ideal crew member would do. Gather as much data as possible from reference and background checks as well as provide an in-depth work style and personality assessment with Lighthouse Consulting Services. The information should be used to validate the interview responses, background and reference checks.
♦ Ask each current crew member for feedback on where they think that the team and themselves could be more efficient in the market place within the next 30-60-90 days. This means that everyone on your ship needs to have their eyes and ears open to seeing where it might be possible to improve and enhance processes, structure, services, customer service, etc.
♦ Captains and officers need to listen to everyone and create a truly open environment. Come up with three things that you can do that will make that happen.
♦ Define what the ideal crew member would possess in skills, work style and personality and make it measurable.
♦ Assist the current crew to fulfill that role. Make sure you have an in-depth work style and personality assessment of your crew members so you’ll have the insight on how to help everyone thrive and to get the best performance from each team member. Through in-depth assessments you will discover how your staff solves problems, deals with stress, makes decisions, processes information, creates and follows up on leads, etc. This will help to ensure that you have the right person in the correct position so they can perform to the best of their ability. Contact us at reception@lighthouseconsulting.com to get started.

lighthouse and boatsIf you have the right team in place, your organization will be able to deal with the many challenges that will come along during the voyage. The key is to hire right the first time and to assist those on board to be the best that they can be. This will lead to happy customers, happy employees, innovation for the future, efficiency for delivery of the product or service and of course, a profitable bottom line.

To take a leadership assessment to see if you have what it takes to help your organization sail well into the future, please click on here. You can gather additional ideas for working with your current and future crew members by reading our books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.