What Will Happen to My Team if … ?

Contingency Blog Post

As we continue to lead our teams and organizations through the COVID-19 pandemic, there are so many things that leaders must do to ensure the safety and performance of their team. There’s one thing in particular I want to put on your radar!

In addition to your increased management and leadership responsibilities, there is one very important question I want you to ask yourself:  “What will happen to my team if I (the leader) am out of commission for two weeks?”

What will happen to my team if I am out of commission for two weeks?

Great leaders don’t just focus on leading through crisis, they plan in advance for it.

Every organization, every team, has their own unique risks that can be navigated and managed more smoothly, if you are prepared for them. Many large organizations develop and update their Risk Management/Contingency  Plans annually so they are prepared in the event of various crises. 

If creating a Contingency Plan is something you have already done for yourself and your team, then you get to advance to GO and collect $200 (an old Monopoly reference)! 

If not, you need to carve out some time on your schedule quickly to create your team’s Contingency Plan. 

For Your Team

Consider doing a Zoom or GoToMeeting call with your team to discuss creating a Contingency Plan. You can also discuss during your weekly one-on-one meetings with each team member, as well. Ask each team member “if you are suddenly out of commission for two weeks in your role, what are the worst-case scenarios?” Have them write down each scenario and begin to develop their individual Contingency Plan, which will become a part of the team’s overall plan. Remember, this is a “temporary, just-in-case plan” so the plan needs to focus on critical work products or deliverables only.

Their individual plan should include:

  • Describe the Project, Deliverable or Task
  • Define the Successful Outcome 
  • Document the Ideal Response  (including Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Make sure critical processes and procedures are documented in detail and, if it makes sense, consider  job shadowing or cross training someone on this particular task.)
  • Document the Timeline 

For You — the Leader

In the event you are out of commission for two weeks yourself, you also need to explore the  worst-case scenarios, risks, and concerns and develop a Contingency Plan to help your team manage around or navigate through the disruption in your absence.

Stop worrying about having all the answers. You just need to be able to tap into the wealth of knowledge, experience, abilities, and strengths of your team … and then give them the space to deliver remarkable results!! 

Make this a “WE Project!” This is how you keep your team engaged.  When they are working on meaningful projects — projects that have a specific purpose — projects that are aligned to the company’s goals — THEY WILL STEP UP AND BE ENGAGED!

But listen! You must take time to acknowledge and appreciate the extra work they are doing for the overall benefit of the team. You must not miss an opportunity to celebrate or to  say “Thank you! You did a great job!” That momentum is what you need to keep your team moving forward!!

Flip the Feedback Script!

As we kick off this month’s featured topic, instead of always thinking of feedback as “GIVING FEEDBACK,” let’s flip the script!

Instead of looking for opportunities to GIVE FEEDBACK this week … I think we should develop the discipline of ASKING for feedback!

Whether you are a leader, team member, parent, or community volunteer, asking others for their feedback is a great way for you to take control of your personal development. Feedback from “key stakeholders” (i.e., trusted colleagues, your children, other volunteers) not only equips you with meaningful insights of where and how you can improve, it also helps to build trust and strengthen important relationships. Asking others for feedback also reinforces the importance of “teamwork” — that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Here are a few tips to help you maximize the opportunity to receive meaningful feedback:

  1. What exactly do you want to know? When asking for feedback, be specific. EXAMPLE: “Hey! I would like to get better at ‘x.’ I really value your feedback and was wondering if you would share with me … “
  2. Practice asking for just ONE THING. Asking for too much feedback can defeat the purpose. Set yourself up for success by making the feedback forward-focused and managable. EXAMPLE: “Hey! I would like to get better at ‘x.’ I really value your feedback and was wondering if you would share with me ONE THING I could do better …”
  3. Clarify the “desired outcome.” When asking for feedback, don’t focus on a “job responsibility” or task (i.e., public speaking, organizing an event) but, rather, focus on the “desired outcome” (i.e., engaging more quickly with my audience, increasing the engagement at my events). EXAMPLE: “Hey! I would like to get better at ‘x.’ I really value your feedback and was wondering if you would share with me ONE THING I could do better that would help me close a prospective client faster?”
  4. Once someone shares meaningful feedback with you, don’t forget to say Thank You! EXAMPLE: Thank you so much! This feedback is extremely valuable to me. I appreciate your support and willingness to share. This is priceless!”  

Final thought. As you are learning how to effectively “ask” for feedback, your colleagues are learning how to effectively “give” feedback. During the conversation, be fluid and learn to actively navigate the “ask” so that you get feedback that is meaningful and truly equips you to achieve excellence!

#ExerciseLeadershipToday Challenge: Who’s up for the challenge of asking for feedback this week? Once you complete the #ExerciseLeadershipToday Challenge, SHARE your experience in the StrengthsBuilders Community or the Strengths-Based Leadership Tribe to enter a monthly drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Make sure you use #strongfeedback when posting your experience!