Preparing for what’s next.

Let’s face it. Having a crystal ball would help us in many ways. However, there may in fact be certain things we don’t want to know about. Although knowing some information ahead of time might help us to be better prepared emotionally. That would be the upside, but there is a downside too.

Due to the fact we don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future, or at least I don’t, how I look ahead and prepare for what’s in front of me isn’t a perfect science. However, let’s say my system is a work in progress and continuously being refined. I would say it’s better to have a system in place than not. Or, at least I find comfort in attempting to have plans in place, or a contingency plan.

When I talk to business leaders and sports coaches, I am always fascinated with their different approaches to how they lead and guide others. Especially in times of adversity.

Adversity is something no one is immune from experiencing. Especially teams as they can be more complicated to deal with versus comparing them to an individual and how they handle adversity. We all know that when you have multiple factors involved in a scenario, it tends to complicate the situation. However, there are ways to simplify and confront a team dealing with a difficult situation.

One of my favorite business memories was when I was working with a sales team who was struggling to meet their numbers. I’ll contrast this with a sports team I was also working with who was rebuilding their team, and the challenges that were present.

In both of the team scenarios, neither one had an adversity contingency plan. This is fairly common, as most teams will strictly be focused on achievement and the process of everything going well. As we know, this isn’t realistic, and precisely why teams and their leaders get into trouble when adversity shows up.

By discussing with each team leader how we were going to handle adversity if it occurred, I prepared both teams in an entirely different manner than they were accustomed to. At first there was some reluctance on both team’s leader/coach to the approach I was recommending, as they thought it would be detrimental to think about something negative occurring.

There is a phrase that I’ll make less crude, and refer to as “life happens”. We know it does, but we are not always willing to embrace the fact that things may not go the way we want them to. However, when we have a contingency plan that can prepare us for a situation that takes us off track, it is mentally much easier to deal with the adverse circumstances when they do occur. In fact, how often do plans typically play out one hundred percent the way you expect them to?

Let’s go back to the two different teams I was referencing. They both eventually conceded and agreed to putting a contingency plan in place. In fact, they put multiple ones in place in order to handle a number of adverse situations they may encounter. Once the contingency plans were in place, both the leader and coach admitted that crafting their respective contingency plans was easier for them to do then they had originally expected.

There is another expression attributed to Benjamin Franklin that I will often cite, and which is related to this topic. It is “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Yes, this might seem slightly harsh, but it has served me and many others extremely well. Especially when an adverse situation occurred.

So, if you are curious about some techniques you can apply to help you or your team prepare for what’s next, below are some ideas for you to consider.

  • Make a list of the positive outcomes expected from your team.
  • Using your positive team outcome list, create a second column and include one or two potential reasons the outcome may not be reached.
  • Leveraging your two columns above, create a third column. This column will include a proposed solution to handle the potential adverse outcomes of your plans.
  • Some of your contingency plans may in fact be able to cover multiple scenarios.
  • If possible, it is recommended you include your team in the contingency planning.
  • If you do not include your team in the contingency planning, make sure you convey to them you have a plan in place if they get off track from their expected positive outcomes.
  • Ideally, you will want to role play the contingency plans. This is because, if you have to put them in place, it will be a more fluid experience for the team since they have knowledge of what is expected of them to do in the contingency planning scenario.
  • Mindset plays a large role in helping your teams to get through adversity. Make sure you have thought about what plan you have in place to leverage your team’s positive mindset when you need to do so in adverse scenarios.

If you are wondering whether these two teams had to enact their contingency plans, I can assure you they did. More than once in fact. However, they were incredibly relieved they had them in place. Even better? They both achieved and exceeded their initial plans, despite the unplanned and encountered adversity along the way.

Tags: #Business #Success #Adversity #ContingencyPlanning #Leadership #Management #BusinessManagement #Strategy

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