Image: Glyn Lowe Image: Glyn Lowe

Following the Brexit vote there has, inevitably, been a measure of uncertainty and instability.

However, I have noticed some businesses taking “advantage” of this instability to justify their decisions.

For example, one of my clients, which provides bespoke language training to many large corporates, had a training contract cancelled. ‘Conserving budget as a result of Brexit’ was the reason given.

Another client was considering sacking a less-than-satisfactory employee and telling them that it was due to Brexit that they wanted to ‘downsize and regroup’.

These are all examples of the ‘Brexit Excuse’ – using Brexit to justify decisions that in reality have little to do with leaving the EU.

I call this playing “below the line”.

The line separates people who are succeeding and will continue to do so from those who are failing, or who are succeeding right now but are unlikely to be able to maintain that success.

Being above the line means taking hold of the OAR and paddling upstream – you rely on Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility. What this means is that you actually do the things you say you are going to do (you are responsible for your work); that you are the one accountable for the results of not only your own work, but also of the people and business that you manage; and finally that you take ownership of your work, your business and your life – and fully claim them as your own.

However, when you play below the line, you lie in BED, playing the hurt victim – you rely on Blame, Excuses and Denial. What this means is that when something goes wrong, there is someone else to blame – the government, competitors, business partners. It means that if you do not achieve what you want to achieve, you find a ‘reason’ for why that didn’t happen – namely, an excuse – and it does not help you get any closer to the goals you have set.

The Brexit Excuse is Below the Line. You are using an excuse and placing the blame elsewhere, instead of stepping up with some real analysis on the areas and responsibilities you are accountable for and taking ownership of the decision you make.

If you need to fire an underperforming team member, then you should make sure you have done everything in your power to upgrade that employee, and then take ownership of firing them because it is for the best thing both for the employee and the company.

If budgets need to be reduced, then that decision should come from a genuine and thought-through requirement, which you have discussed with your bookkeeper or accountant and understood your financial documents properly, not because of potential and unsubstantiated uncertainty or fear.

It may end up being that the effect of Brexit will mean jobs need to go, or relocation is necessary, or you need to change your team’s training programme. But if you are using the uncertainty of what might happen due to Brexit as a reason for a decision you make in your business then you may want to pause and have a think – are you falling below the line?

Even if you are staying above the line when it comes to Brexit, it is likely that you will, if you haven’t already, face vendors and clients who are likely to use the Brexit Excuse to try and see what else they can get out of you.

You need to be able to rebuff these justifications without losing business. That’s why it is more important than ever to train yourself in negotiation skills, so you can easily protect your business and stay on your trajectory of success despite the uncertainty of the economy.

By Shweta Jhajharia, Principal Coach and founder of The London Coaching Group