Meetings challenge leaders with a seemingly limitless number of problems. Wouldn’t it be nice if you saw them coming so that you could be ready with a solution? While you can’t know everything that’s going to happen during a meeting, you can make some good guesses about the most likely problems and plan accordingly.
Take, for instance, a meeting in which you are planning to announce to your staff a reorganization. In your mind this is going to be really good for everyone. While that may be true, it doesn’t take much imagination to anticipate some of your employees might not see it that way. The minute you say the word reorganization, some people will become defensive.
As fear races through their minds, protective instincts will kick in. The result might be people start challenging the wisdom of the change. They may shut down and go silent in an attempt to fly under the radar. Most every response will work against what you are trying to accomplish, and reduce the odds of having a successful gathering. If you can anticipate these reactions, you can also think about how to mitigate the adverse effects.
Think of it like planning a party that you want to host in your backyard. You lay out all the details based on your hopes for a beautiful day. Do you think through the changes you’ll make if it rains? Most people would. How about if it’s really windy? Not as many people would, but I think that one also represents a very real threat. How about earthquakes, tornadoes, or the outbreak of a deadly virus? Probably not. While possible, those are highly unlikely. If it’s likely to go wrong, you should be ready for it. And if not fully prepared, at least ready to show some flexibility and adaptability if it comes to pass.
If you walk into your reorganization meeting oblivious to what will be likely and normal reactions, you are setting yourself up for disaster. That’s why you might want to not only create Plan A, but also be ready with Plans B & C as well. Consider a few of the problems that have a reasonable probability of cropping up and noodle through what you will do if things do work out that way. You’ll be glad you did.
Image credit: Rachel from cupcakes take the cake