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This is a test, this is only a test.


If only when things are going catastrophically wrong at work, we could hear these words, “This is only a test!" Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that, and things can, and do, go wrong. This is when experienced managers will set themselves apart, as they always have contingency plans on hand.


In this clip from “The Office” Dwight runs a simulated fire drill to show his

team just how unprepared they are for the real event. While there’s no need to go through such drastic measures, the idea is sound.


Here are a few things to consider regarding contingency planning.


How often do you think about the worst-case scenario at work? Some examples could be, your biggest client decides to leave you, or your email server goes down the day your holiday campaign is scheduled to launch. What’s your response plan? Is it written, practiced, and do all parties know their responsibilities?


Do all your team members have backup, i.e. someone else who can perform their function even for a short-term emergency? Don’t be that proverbial ostrich and pretend it can’t happen. “Where’s Nancy, she’s the only one who knows the passwords to our client’s systems and we need to login.” “She’s out today sir". "I don’t care where she is or what she’s doing, tell her it’s an emergency!” “She’s in a coma sir…”


Managers will say that they don’t have enough resources to have redundancies in functions. Well you won’t have any resources if you can’t carry out a job in cases of emergency, so get creative, and train everyone to backup someone.


But what scenario should you tackle first, as there are endless possibilities? In all likelihood, you can cross the alien invasion off your list! A simple method is to start with a list of the most straightforward or common scenarios and list them in the order of their likeliness to occur. Then chart them them by the ones that have the greatest potential financial impact. Now you have a starting point.


Often, while developing continency plans you realize that some simple preventative measures can help. For example, if you’re planning for a fire in your house, you may come to the realization, that the best place to start is by installing smoke detectors.


When writing a contingency plan, make sure it’s crystal clear who is responsible for what and be sure to get consensus on the plan before everything goes up in flames. When something does go awry, it’s a good idea is to have a quick meeting to review the situation and then put the plan into action as some parameters might not be exactly as you planned them and some of the personnel might be indisposed.


An important managerial trait is having the ability to stay calm and collected in times of crisis. And one of the easiest ways to stay calm, is to always have a backup plan on hand and ready for action!

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