05 May Teach the Elephant in the Room to Dance
Do you see that? Standing right next to you is an elephant in the room.
You know it’s there. It smells like something familiar. Occasionally you get a glimpse of it out of the corner of your eye and that reminds you that you need to do something about it.
Yet, you constantly choose to ignore it.
That elephant is a metaphor of course. But it is all too real.
In your shop, what is the elephant you are ignoring?
Is it financial? Maybe you can’t pay your bills due to lagging sales? You keep charging on credit and struggle to meet payroll. It’s a dirty secret, but eventually, you know it is going to come out.
Maybe it’s time management? Your shop has grown so much over the last year or two that you are being pulled in fifteen different directions at once. There never is enough time to do everything, so things are accomplished but they always look half-assed. That really nags at you too.
What about the people in your shop? You know you should have fired that problem employee last week. However, confrontation isn’t your strong suit, so you just keep hanging on hoping they will get better. But as soon as you think that, you can hear the drama unfolding in the break room.
Your elephant might be something different than those three listed above. After all, it’s not like I have a camera in your shop. What keeps you up at night?
This article is about addressing that elephant in the room.
In fact, once we’re done that elephant will be moonwalking across your shop floor.
Name the Elephant
The first step is to recognize that the elephant is a problem that needs to be addressed.
This means naming it. But not necessarily “Cuddles” or something…
Let’s face it, squaring off against the office bully or telling your historically best customer that they are on credit hold and are tough chores to handle.
But they are completely necessary. Mandatory even.
Because if you don’t get around to dancing with that elephant, it’s only going to get worse. Then, that elephant will be parading through your shop like an outtake scene from Jumanji.
Next, What Do You Want To Happen?
This is where it can get sticky. You need to figure out what trick you want the elephant to learn. You’ve identified the elephant, now you must decide on what to do with it.
This is the action step.
So, hire someone today to do your social media marketing because you never get around to it.
Pull the trigger and replace that employee you really like as a person, but who just won’t perform on a daily basis no matter what you try. There is a better opportunity for them somewhere else.
Give the tiger gets some teeth with accountability issues and start a working disciplinary procedure program. Stop saying the same things over and over again. Use an employee handbook and set some rules.
Whatever your elephant looks like, you have to determine the solution. What dance step does it need to learn?
Command the Elephant
Now, get that elephant to bend to your will.
After all, it’s is your company right?
If so and so doesn’t want to treat people nicer, then they don’t have to work for you. Let that jerk become someone else’s problem.
For stickier situations, you might have to call in the pros. That’s why lawyers, accountants, HR pros, plumbers or electricians can completely solve that problem now.
Also, let’s not forget my category…consultants. Why sweat the details when someone with more experience can help you navigate those stormy seas?
Whatever the situation, an action is going to make things better. Nothing is going to improve if you ignore the challenge.
Get that elephant in the room moving around, and listening to your commands. Don’t forget, your current situation is already costing you money.
Don’t step over a dollar to save a dime.
Be Results Oriented
You may have to keep that elephant moving for a bit. Lots of training. Many tweaks. Even a failure or two.
Elephants tend to sashay at their own pace. It’s the results you want, not how many steps the elephant takes getting there. That’s your focus.
Which means it might take someone a bit to adjust their behavior or learn a new skill. Your past due customer may need to work out a payment plan. An employee with a performance problem may need some extra training.
Your goal is for that elephant in the room is to be fully trained to the point that you can start calling it Gene Kelly.
This means that you will have to learn to get out of your comfort zone and work with the problem until it is mastered.
Be future facing.
Your utopia is over there. Are you willing to dance with that elephant?
So there is only one question to end of this article. You know it’s coming too.
Have you named your elephant yet?
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” – Arthur Conan Doyle
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” – Confucious
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
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