How Do You Handle The Unexpected?


After six weeks of Rugby World Cup mania life seems to be calmer, or is it? I find it interesting that there are some people who are so judgmental about our team, the All Blacks.


Some are quite critical of their performance in the finals.  When people criticise I feel like saying; “how would you have handled the unexpected?”  There were so many injuries to the team members during the Cup games, yet others stepped up to play with everything they had, and the Team deserved to win. The final penalty goal kicked by Stephen Donald, the player who had earlier been way down the list of reserves, meant he went from being zero to hero.  He delivered the unexpected when it was needed.

Not Just Preparation
I was speaking at a conference recently and despite all preparation the delegate numbers had grown to the extent that the tables for the dinner were crammed together which meant that some were out of view of the stage and screen. I spent the afternoon with the organisers and MD of the company helping to re-arrange the set up to make the best of a difficult situation.  The conference had been planned for months, but the venue organisers hadn’t communicated the difficulties of increased numbers. So much preparation prior to the event, but on the day so many changes.  One of the delegates came up to me the next morning and raised the importance of preparation, which linked to my talk.  I agreed and said that we can do all the preparation in the world, however, the most important thing is to being able to handle whatever happens that counts.

The Error of Making Assumptions
Re-structuring is continually taking place in organisations.  It doesn’t always mean job losses, though in many instances they do occur.  A senior manager was asked to attend a meeting with her boss, one of the directors of the company.  He then added; “oh, and bring a support person.”  This manager had handled many redundancies and she realised with the discussions around re-structuring at recent meetings perhaps her role was on the line.  She decided to take a support person along and immediately the director called a colleague in another city and asked him to join the meeting. 

At the meeting the manager was calm and open to what was being proposed, but she quickly realised that the two directors had made many assumptions. had only prepared for a worst-case scenario and had presumed she would be hostile and difficult to deal with.  They were so wrong.  They had prepared, but not for what happened.  It was they who were hostile and defensive saying because she had brought someone to the meeting two of them had to be present.  All that the manager wanted to do was to help them through the changes and exit graciously.  It literally blew them away.  The support person who was highly experienced in these areas was shocked at the lack of calm and openness by the directors.  They were the ones who looked stupid as they were so caught up with their own insecure thinking. 

Are You Prepared?
New Zealand is a beautiful country that always needs to be prepared for the unexpected, especially as we are so small in terms of people and resources. The All Blacks were prepared for the unexpected even though it meant calling on Stephen Donald, to leave his whitebait fishing trip in the Waikato, to re-join the squad and do what was needed for the team and Cup. If any of the important players in your organisation is 'injured' or suddenly leaves for any reason, how many 'reserves' do you have who can step-up into his or her place? What have you done to develop these

Gilly Chater



 Ann Andrews CSP

Speaker, Author; Profiler, Team & Performance Management Specialist
MD The Corporate Toolbox


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Gilly helps people achieve insight powered breakthroughs for themselves and their businesses. She is an inspirational speaker who presents keynotes and breakouts at conferences and writes about the key ingredients for success in today’s world.

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