As the great American “philosopher” Mike Tyson once said after he was told that a boxing challenger had a plan to defeat him, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” I am not a Mike Tyson fan but no matter what you think about him, he had at least one moment of genius.
Most leaders understand—whether it is in business or in life—the best laid plans often get derailed. Ask yourself, “When is the last time a major project went as planned?” Planning is the easy part. The question is, what do you do when your plan gets “punched in the face?”
It does not matter how “air tight” your plan is, there is a good chance something or someone will throw it off track. Setbacks are often unavoidable, especially when you move into unfamiliar or uncharted territory.
Here are 7 ideas that can help you and your team get back in the ring:
1. Create a cushion.
At the outset of a project build in time and space to deal with potential setbacks. Creating contingency plans can save your projects.
2. Be honest about the setback.
Ouch that hurts! Acknowledging the pain of the “punch” is a critical step to recovery. People often move quickly to frustration and then quit because things did not go as planned. Some people panic and try to cover up problems. It is important to recognize that setbacks or missteps are part of the process. View setbacks as a part of the journey of learning and growing.
3. Huddle and do damage control.
Get your team together to assess the damage. Ask these questions: What’s the impact of the setback on the overarching goal? What caused the breakdown? What can we learn from the setback that will help us move forward?
4. Avoid doing something nasty.
Get control of your emotions and work to avoid making matters worse. Don’t just sit there—THINK!
Once you have analyzed the setback and completed damage control, spend some time recommitting to your goal. A setback can create doubt and fear, bringing down team morale, so it is important to regroup and re-inspire the team.
6. Create a new action plan.
After a setback, incorporate lessons and the new information into a new plan of action.
7. Identify a small win.
Seek a small win right away to regain momentum.
How do you recover after a setback?