Respond, don’t react
Your culture is one of the five areas that make up your brand, but it’s often the area that we let evolve by default. However, if you’re going to build a brilliant brand, you must get it right in all five areas. That means intentionality in all, not just some areas of your brand.
One of the biggest breakdowns in your culture happens in reactionary environments. I’m not talking about organizations that have methodically made change a part of the constant for their brand. I like that, and I like the agility that can shape a team from that. Instead, I’m talking about the organizations that are driven by what they feel, and they don’t take the time to ask the right questions before making a move or asking others to move.
I would definitely classify myself as a more instinctive leader, so I understand the feeling of wanting to react right there, right now. I get it. We know what to do, so let’s just move. However, I don’t think there’s anything more devastating than this style of leadership. I’ve personally seen what the reactionary style does to my team. Reactionary environments break down our morale and erode our culture. Reactionary deteriorates your brand.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not talking about creating a slow-paced environment where we just sit around and think about what’s happening—heck no. It’s quite the opposite. I’m talking about moving from reacting to responding, to build a healthier culture. I’m not talking about the pace at which you move. The pace that you move when you react or respond is often the same, but the difference ends up being the outcome. A response can inspire action versus reactions that demand movement.
The simplest example I can think of is what happens when your smoke alarm goes off in the house. Unless you see flames, I doubt your first step is to call 911. Of course, you first try to identify what’s causing this. The first step is figure out the cause. The same is true with your brand. When your marketing isn’t working fast enough, or you do not see the growth you want, your first response shouldn’t be to change what you’re doing. Your first impulse when things aren’t working should be to ask a few qualifying questions to help you respond in the right direction.
If your email marketing isn’t getting the response you want, it doesn’t mean you pull the plug on emails. Maybe your subjects aren’t hitting the mark. Maybe you’re sending them at the wrong time of day, or on a wrong day. Maybe your message is too broad. There are many variables to why something isn’t working.
I’ve seen so many organizations start and stop things just because they didn’t take the time to ask the right questions and respond in the right direction. When we don’t take the time to stop and ask, it breaks down morale, trust, and motivation. Things aren’t going to work, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work at all.
Here’s a simple process for navigating crisis and moving from reactionary to responsive:
- Identify the problem.
- Write down the top reason/reasons you think it’s happening.
- Ask at least one other person why they think something isn’t working.
- Adjust what you’re doing.
You can still move at the speed of need, but this simple guard rail will help you stop long enough to respond in the right direction. In most cases, this process takes no more than 10-15 minutes. And in crisis, 10-15 minutes of processing before responding could be the difference maker in the culture your shaping.