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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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    Last Updated on March 29, 2021

    5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

    5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

    When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

    What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

    The Dream Type Of Manager

    My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

    I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

    My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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    “Okay…”

    That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

    I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

    The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

    The Bully

    My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

    However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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    The Invisible Boss

    This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

    It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

    The Micro Manager

    The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

    Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

    The Over Promoted Boss

    The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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    You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

    The Credit Stealer

    The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

    Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

    3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

    Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

    1. Keep evidence

    Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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    Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

    Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

    2. Hold regular meetings

    Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

    3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

    Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

    However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

    Good luck!

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