Things don't always turn out the way we expected. To prepare more effectively, develop if/then scenarios (Plan B, Plan C, etc.) to deal with the situation in case your initial hypothesis is incorrect.
- Things don't always turn out the way we expect. Your new hire can't hack the new job and has to be terminated. Your competitor just launched a new product that's way more advanced than yours. Or maybe things have been great and demand for your services are up 40% this year. Whatever it is, it's not exactly what you thought ti would be. And whether the problem is good or bad, you have to adapt quickly. In the moment, it can be hard to have the necessary perspective to figure out the right move. That's why it's so important to master contingency planning in your business.
Whenever there's an inflection point or choice you have to make, hire this person, not that person, or deciding whether to open a new field office, it's useful to plan out alternative backup scenarios so you're ready in case the landscape changes. Here's how to do it. First, write down what your expected outcomes are. What do you think is gonna happen? Most companies and individuals don't take the time to do this, and it's to their detriment, because over time your original thinking gets foggy. Why did that seem like such a good idea? Write it down now so you can evaluate it objectively later on and test your thinking.
Second, recognizing that the unexpected might happen, which is the hallmark of an adaptable manager, you can identify at least some of the more likely possibilities. For instance, if you have a new hire, Plan A is of course that that person will be wonderful and amazing. But a realistic Plan B is that she might be an average performer, and Plan C is that she'll be terrible and alienate everyone around her. Now write out your if/then scenarios for those eventualities just in case. That helps you deal with reality faster when and if it does arise.
For instance, for Plan B, you could say if she turns out to be average, I'll set up a weekly coaching session with her for the next month to help her adjust, and if she's still underperforming, we'll hire an experienced executive coach to work with her. And for Plan C, if she's a terrible performer, you might say if she turns out to be terrible, I'll provide intensive coaching for the next month, and if nothing changes, I'll consult with HR about how to terminate her contract quickly so we can move on. Finally, the best way to deal with crises is of course to prevent them.
Writing out possible scenarios enables you to wargame how you might take steps to avoid them altogether. For instance, to weed out bad hires, you might make a plan to, number one, identify the traits of your company's most successful managers and look for those traits in the hiring process. Number two, have multiple people interview the candidates so you're not just relying on your own opinion. Or number three, have the finalists job shadow you for a few hours to see how they comport themselves over the course of the day and whether they think the company seems like a fit to them.
Those are just a few possibilities, but they give you a sense of techniques you can use upfront to eliminate some of the most obvious misfires. Adaptable managers know that nothing ever goes exactly according to plan. Unskilled leaders weep and gnash their teeth about it, but the truly adaptable recognize a reality and take action decisively.