There’s Plan A. The Plan you are currently following. The one that is supposed to have a happy ending. The one you are committed to.
Then there’s Plan B. The one you choose when Plan A isn’t working out so well. Most of us don’t even have a Plan B, because Plan A is going to work, and it’s negative and bad woowoo to even consider anything other than the best case scenario.
At least that’s what all the woowoo sellers would have us believe.
Let me share something with you. If you have a Plan B, you are more likely to be able to choose it when Plan A doesn’t work out. If you have a Plan B, you’ll likely spend a lot less time on Plan A.
Every relationship in your life needs a Plan A and a Plan B.
In your personal life: your spouse; your friends; your siblings, and the people you interact with regularly. Namely, the guy that cuts your lawn, the place where you buy your milk, your dog walker, your manicurist, your hairdresser, your dry cleaner.
Professionally speaking those relationships include: your boss, your employees, your partners, your reports, your assistant, your suppliers, your clients, your colleagues.
Here’s what typically happens: Something in one of those relationships isn’t working. After months (and even years) of hoping it will magically solve itself, you sum up the fortitude to have ‘The Conversation’. You communicate what isn’t working, and you express what you’d like to have happen instead.
What happens then: The person you are talking to, makes a lot of cooing sounds, agrees with you, apologizes, says it won’t happen again, pretends to understand every single nuance of what you are saying, and promises to immediately correct the offending behaviour.
In the professional sense, this is when raises get promised, meetings get talked about, follow ups get scheduled, promotions get enthusiastic nods and agreement, clients smile a lot, bosses seem to listen, employees ‘get it’ – we’ve all been there.
(This is the best case scenario. If what you get back when you try to engage in ‘The Conversation’ is instantaneous tit-for-tat which usually begins with “Well you did this …” which may or may not have something to do with the conversation you are trying to have, then proceed immediately and without hesitation to Plan B – more on that outlined below.)
But let’s continue on the Plan A path for now. You had the conversation and you feel optimistic. You may tell the friends you complained to while you were finding the right words and way to have the conversation with the not-great-but-could-be-better person on the other side of the relationship something along the lines of, “Oh it went really well. We had the conversation and I think they got it, it’s going to get better.”
Step 1 complete.
Wait and see.
For how long?
That’s your call.
I don’t know how patient you are.
If the changes are made, you will see that pretty quickly. If steps are taken, but they take a while for results to be felt – if the changes are sustained, congratulations, so happy for you.
If, however, the changes aren’t made, there is no progress, nothing shifts after 24 hours, and there is absolutely no momentum what then? Brace yourself. It’s time for Plan B.
I told my friend about this last week. “After the first conversation?” “Yes, after the first conversation.” He whistled. You know the whistle. The, “Wow that’s harsh” whistle.
But think about it.
How much time do we waste in Plan A when the evidence is plentiful that Plan A isn’t working?
Way too much.
For two reasons: The first one, which I’ve already mentioned – there is no Plan B. No contingency plan. No back up. No one considered what would happen if Plan A didn’t work out.
The second reason, I believe, is because executing Plan B is a ton of work.
Not to mention
It means you have to fire someone (never fun). It means you have to find a new employee. It means you have to leave your job and find a new one. It means you have to break up with that friend. It means you have to move. It means you have to change your business.
It means one big gigantic short term headache.
What would you rather? A gigantic short term headache that ends? Or a long term dull throbbing headache that lasts years, that can waste the best, most productive, highest earning potential years of your career, while you keep waiting and believing in someone whose promise was forgotten the second the conversation was over.
Start developing your Plan B.