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HIDING OUT, Part VI

By Chuck Violand

August 31, 2015

Recognizing the symptoms and understanding the underlying causes of hiding out are needed steps to addressing it. But if we’re serious about overcoming it, or avoiding it in the first place, we have to take action.

Identify the triggers that set off your desire to hide out. Is it fear or intimidation? Is it a general sense of being overwhelmed, brought on by having too many things to do and too little time to do them? If either of these are the case, don’t beat yourself up or feel that you’re a weak leader. Use this recognition as an opportunity to dig a little deeper into why you feel this way and then do something. People will forgive a poor decision if it’s made with the right intentions. They’ll adjust to having you hold them accountable. But your best people will leave your company if they feel you’re not willing to make the tough calls, hold people accountable, or progress toward your goals.

Start by stopping. Stop denying that measuring things is important or thinking that kicking decisions down the road is good strategy. Flying blind might have worked when your company was smaller, but as your company grows it can lead to disaster.

Start small. You don’t have to jump from measuring nothing to tracking a full-blown dashboard of KPIs. If you’re not in the habit of tracking your numbers, then start by tracking one thing, but make it an important thing—like sales growth, net profit, or cash flow. If you’re experiencing high turnover in your business, figure out why. Ask your people for their opinions and listen to them. As you get more comfortable with tracking, and less comfortable hiding out, you can add more sophisticated measurables.

If there’s a tough conversation you need to have with someone, but you’ve been putting it off, try approaching them about it just this once. Lead into it by saying, “I need to have a conversation with you, but I’ve been putting it off. When can we get together?”

Surround yourself with strong people. Business owners have plenty of yes-men around to stroke their egos and tell them what they want to hear. What they need are people who are strong enough to speak the truth to those in authority.

One of the most difficult things for an entrepreneur to do in his business is surround himself with strong people who are smarter than he is. It can be incredibly intimidating and may even make him feel threatened. But it can also be the best thing he does for himself and his company. Strong people who are smarter than you will probably be more willing to give you the unvarnished truth when it’s called for. This is important, especially when we don’t want to hear it. What’s more, strong people not only help you identify tough issues that need to be addressed, but they support you when you address them. They bring points of view you may not have considered before, or firsthand experiences they can share to help you navigate the tough personal interactions that are a natural part of a growing business.

Hiding out isn’t a behavior that’s reserved just for business owners. It resides at every level within a company. Recognizing it when it appears and taking the necessary steps to either address it in others or overcome it within yourself will set you and your company on a path for growth and success.