Crisis Management When You’re Not at Your Best

A personal crisis can interrupt not only your home life but your business, as well. The good news is that it is possible to keep things afloat in the office when you feel like you’re falling apart.

Stafford Wood learned that lesson all too well. Life was going as usual when she started her Baton Rouge, Louisiana, graphic design firm Covalent Logic more than a decade ago, but five years ago, she went through a divorce and felt diminished.

Find Balance with a Crisis Management Plan

“After almost 20 years together, my divorce was a significant blow to my concept of myself and required a lot of soul-searching to overcome,” says Wood. “Additionally, with two children, I had to change the way I was spending my time to make sure they were first in my life.”

That meant Wood had to juggle home and work differently. Today, Wood’s personal crisis is behind her and as she moves forward optimistically, she readily shares her wisdom for other small businesses about keeping the business going in the midst of an emotional storm.

Don’t neglect the basics. Running a business during a personal crisis will require more energy than usual. Eat healthy foods, Wood suggests, and make sure you get enough sleep. “Without it, you can’t do anything.”

Have faith in the business you’ve built. When things aren’t going well in your personal life, you may feel more anxious about your professional life, as well. “The weight of the world is on your shoulders and you know that if you don’t make it all work, it could all fall apart,” Wood says. However, trust that your business will withstand challenging times. “The idea that I had built the business over years meant that I probably couldn’t destroy it in a day.”

Empower and trust team members to pick up the slack. You may need to spend more of your time handling your personal crisis. That will leave you with less time and energy for work. “I learned to trust and rely on others,” Wood says. “Before the divorce, I was much less likely to delegate. Now, my managers have more authority and I rely on strategic business partners to make financial and human resources decisions to support my vision for the company.” If you’re unsure what tasks to pass off to others, start with the things that don’t come naturally to you, Wood advises. “Try to focus on what you are best at, and rely on others to do the rest.”

Leave work at the office. When a personal crisis hits, it’s helpful to keep office pressures from adding to your stress at home. Wood leaned on her network of friends and found a silver lining amid all of the pain. “You find out what’s really important to you when you experience loss, and for me, it turned out that living a meaningful life with people I loved was more important than anything that I ever had.”

Managing your business when personal challenges arise requires you to recognize that you don’t have to strive for perfection to be successful. “You don’t have to be Wonder Woman every day – in every situation,” she says. “Sometimes you’re just Stafford Wood.”


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