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Why Successful People Will Never Neglect A Backup Plan

Why Successful People Will Never Neglect A Backup Plan

A contingency plan doesn’t sound like what you would discuss with friends over cake and coffee, but it’s an essential part of any actual plans you make. You may need one (or more) for your business, school project, or even a family vacation. The biggest problem with making a contingency plan is that people often aren’t sure about what to include in it. Here is a handy guide for you to make a comprehensive one.

What is a contingency plan?

A contingency plan is a set of actions that you will take when something unexpected happens. Think of it as a backup plan, or a Plan B. It should have instructions that you can follow when your original plan doesn’t work out due to changes in the situation.

A contingency plan prepares you to deal with any future troubles you may encounter, and gives you some sort of escape route out of any accident.[1]

What happens if you don’t have a contingency plan?

If something goes wrong with your Plan A unexpectedly, or if accidents force you to change your current plan, chances are you will panic. Especially if you’re not well prepared to deal with contingencies, you probably can’t think straight enough to come up with the solution you need at that moment. You won’t know what to do.

What’s worse, until you’re able to get the situation under control, business can’t go back to normal. You’ll have to fix the trouble and make new plans.

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What if the contingency plan is a bad one?

Don’t think making a contingency plan is a simple task. A contingency plan should be comprehensive, which requires lots of careful consideration. Otherwise, it is not helpful.

For instance, you may be prepared for the wrong kinds of accidents. And when your plan doesn’t work out as expected, you won’t be organized enough to handle the crisis. That is, you’ll panic.

How can a contingency plan benefit you?

For instance, a contingency plan allows you to deal with accidents quickly and effectively.[2] In a business scenario, it can even help you save time and cost in repairing the situation.

Also, a contingency plan helps minimize the negative consequences or losses caused by the unexpected event. It guides you to start dealing with the situation as soon as something goes wrong and keeps you safe.

After all, having a contingency plan ready is reassuring, because you won’t have to worry about making new plans in a rush.

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You may think that accidents are unlikely. You may think that your Plan A is perfect. However, you should keep in mind that the future is uncertain until it becomes the present, and that we as human beings can’t control 100% of what happens. You don’t want to regret not having a contingency plan when it’s too late!

How to write a good contingency plan?

There are basically 5 steps:[3]

    We’ll now go through them one by one:

    1. Identify

    As a contingency plan has to do with what’s unexpected, you have to first try and predict the risks:[4]

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    • What could possibly go wrong?
    • How likely it would go wrong?
    • What’s the impact and consequences of the contingency?
    • What should be your reaction or solution?
    • How can you prepare for it in advance?

    2. Prioritize

    Using what you’ve written down in Step 1, rank your risks by their possible impact and likelihood. The more likely the risk will happen and the more serious the impact will be, the higher it should rank.

    You have to decide how much weighting to put on each risk according to your situation.

    3. Plan

    The next step is to actually write your contingency plan. Keeping in mind the resources available to you, design solutions to the risks you want to cover in the plan. Be realistic about your needs: perhaps some issues have to be dealt with before some others, or perhaps you have to take actions within a certain time frame, etc.

    It is also important to give clear and simple instructions, so that you won’t forget what you’ve written months later, or that someone will misunderstand them.[5]

    4. Execute

    If your contingency plan involves other people, say, your colleagues or your family members, talk it through with them. Let them know what they’re supposed to do when certain things happen.[6] Prepare them.

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    Then, if your plan includes actions to prepare for future accidents, execute them. This can help you lower the risks.

    5. Review

    Changes happen all the time. For your contingency plan to be practical, you should review it and make adjustments regularly. Evaluate the items in your plan. Over time, some risks may become more or less likely, or may bring about different outcomes. Learn your situation well, and update your solutions accordingly.

    If your plan is about large-scale risks such as natural disasters or server failures, conducting drills is very helpful to identifying any weaknesses of the plan, as well as making sure the people involved will be prepared to act according to the plan when they have to.

    Some concrete examples to put things into perspective:

    Example 1: Contingency plan for an outdoor exhibition

    • Potential risk: Rain
    • Who will be affected: Exhibitors, visitors, organizers and crew members
    • Action 1: Secure exhibit items
      • Who will take action: On-site crew members
      • Preparation: Rain-proof covers for exhibitors’ stalls, email exhibitors with weather forecasts 3 days in advance
    • Action 2: Lead visitors to sheltered areas
      • Who will take action: On-site crew members, security guards
      • Preparation: Mark designated areas as no-parking areas, waterproof jackets for crew

    Example 2: Contingency plan for delivering a speech to a big group of audience (co-workers)

    • Potential risk: The projector or the computer doesn’t work
    • Who will be affected: Me
    • Action: Write outline and key points on whiteboard as I speak
      • Who will take action: Me
      • Preparation: Notes in hard copy, 3 colored markers, printed handouts

    Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Wen Shan

    Proud Philosophy grad. Based in HK.

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    Published on September 16, 2020

    12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

    12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

    Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

    Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

    Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

    Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

    Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

    Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

    1. Organization

    When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

    When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

    Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

    To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

    To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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    2. Flexibility

    You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

    Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

    For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

    To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

    To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

    3. Collaboration

    As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

    Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

    To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

    To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

    4. Poise

    Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

    When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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    What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

    To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

    To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

    5. Communication

    Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

    When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

    To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

    To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

    6. Good Computer Hygiene

    Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

    Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

    To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

    To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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    7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

    Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

    Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

    To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

    To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

    8. Respecting Feedback

    In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

    Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

    To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

    To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

    9. Project Management

    Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

    To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

    To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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    10. Staying up to Speed

    Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

    To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

    To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

    11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

    “Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

    To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

    To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

    12. Teamwork

    Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

    Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

    To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

    To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

    Final Thoughts

    Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

    More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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