Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Guide to surviving the perfect storm at work

Preparedness pays as sometimes you are hit by a cyclone that you don’t even see coming

Tropical cyclone Mekunu hit Yemen and Oman last week. I was in Oman when it happened and it was heartening to know that the government there was well-prepared for the extreme weather conditions, which prevented a major loss of life and property. The efforts of the government and the people of Oman were rightly applauded by the media and around the GCC and beyond.

Yet, in the case of a cyclone or a major natural disaster, some things are bound to get affected. Preparedness pays, as it did in the case of Oman, and the same logic applies to the business world. No matter how profitable or well established your business is, sometimes you are hit by a storm that you don’t even see coming. It could be the case of the death of a partner, a fire, war, or major natural disease that can rock the business to its core.

Regardless of how bad the bad may become, your business needs to always be prepared to face a storm. While it may seem hard because you don’t know what will hit and when it will hit, ensuring that a few techniques are applied can help you greatly:


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Get tougher

When things go wrong on a ship, people will look to the captain for guidance and to lift their spirits, and that’s your role as a founder of the business. You are the captain of the ship. When things shake up, you have to get tougher and resilient in the face of the storm.

What helps greatly is to acknowledge that something has happened, accept it, and then take action to resolve it. Resisting the situation doesn’t help much, and I learnt it the hard way. The minute I accept that this is my current reality, I automatically become more focused to come up with a solution.

Make sure you have the right team

This takes you a few steps back to your hiring process. It’s imperative that you hire people who are passionate and driven about your business as much as you are. Because that will help you greatly when crisis happens. When things go down, you’ll be able to lift each other up.

My sister and I are business partners, and because we’re so passionate about our idea and believe in it so strongly, when one of us feels down, the other steps in and reminds us of why we started the venture.

As your team expands, take your time in hiring the right people. It’s like a marriage commitment. You wouldn’t get married to just anyone right? Same thing applies to your business.

Come up with a crisis strategy

So, what do you do if your business or you as a founder get trashed on social media? Or what happens if say, your store gets robbed? Or that someone sues you for having a faulty product? Have you discussed such scenarios with your partner and team?

Do you have a manual of how certain processes are undertaken in case a team member decides to suddenly quit, or God forbid something bad happens to them?

As boring as it is to draft manuals and procedures policies, they’re extremely crucial. Start off with writing a procedure manual for certain tasks. For example, if you publish content on your website, then have a procedure that would include everything from timing of publishing a post to how to troubleshoot an error.

You need to have a plan chalked out on how you’ll handle problems. Have a scenario for social media trolling, in case of fire, in case of war, in case a founder is terminally ill, or in case of a colleague or one of the founders is dying.

Never give up

Last but not least, even when you have to face the worst of the situations, you shouldn’t quit. The thought will cross your mind for sure, but don’t ruin everything that you’ve built because of a crisis. Look at it as a learning experience that will help you both personally and professionally. Instead of letting troubles consume your energy, be the one who takes advantage of it for your own good.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: June 2, 2018 06:21 PM