Extracted from The Effectiveness Guide: Discover the SECRET to Becoming More Effective Tomorrow Than You Are Today.
Have you ever wondered how to get ahead at work; how to always get the raise, get promoted, and get selected for further training and key assignments? And, you’re not alone. Your peers are having the same thoughts.
To progress in your career, you must be the best at what you do and be perceived by your employer as a good Planner.
In my last article, I addressed how you could become a better delegator. This article will focus on how to take Immediate Action when your plans/projects go South..
Sounds pretty simple, right? But it’s not. Here’s what I’ve learned from being an executive Career Coach for more than 20 years.
How Can You Take “Immediate Action”?
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
– Hellen Keller
When unanticipated things happen, don’t just sit there, do something! But what? Effective people step up and take Immediate Action. Immediate Action is a drill used to react to unanticipated situations that could cause a work stoppage, property or equipment damage, a security breach or physical injury.
The steps of the Immediate Action Drill are:
- Assess the Situation: Either be on-the-scene or in communication with someone on the ground. Assess the situation based on the facts.
- Notify emergency services (as needed) and your Leader: If needed, notify Fire and Police, and call your Leader to tell him what you know and what you have done.
- Consider your Options: What should be done to stabilize the situation? What are your options? If time permits, collaborate with your team members/Key Players.
- Select the Best Option: Select the best option or achieve consensus from your team members/Key Players.
- Create a Plan Of Action: Create your Plan of Action (Objective, Method, Risk, Timetable, Resources, and UIs).
- Take Decisive Action: Take charge and give new instructions to team members /Key Players. Supervise execution.
- Reassess the Situation: What has changed? Did the situation stabilize or was the problem resolved?
If Yes, move to the final step.
If NO, repeat this process.
- Return and Report to your Leader: Tell your leader what happened, what caused it, and what you recommend be done to ensure this never happens again.
Here’s a great example:
Situation: At 9 AM, two days before his company’s annual Leadership Conference, Bob, the Project Lead, was conducting his final site inspection of the hotel venue and was astonished by what he saw. He tried to pull into the resort parking lot, which was blocked by construction vehicles that were tearing up the parking lot. This was a disaster for Bob because he had 150 Senior Executives driving and flying in from all over the country. Fortunately, Bob was trained in how to take Immediate Action.
Step 1: Bob didn’t panic. He assessed the situation, took photos with his cell phone, spoke with the hotel manager, and learned that a major water main had broken and flooded the entire parking lot. Fortunately, the hotel still had water.
Step 2: Call your Leader: At 9:30 AM, Bob called his leader and appraised him of the situation. There was no reason to call the Fire or Police department.
Step 3: Consider your options: At 10 AM, Bob called a meeting of all team members/Key Players (anyone who must take action for the project to be a success) at the company headquarters conference room to collaborate the best solution.
Step 4: Select the Best Option: Several people thought they needed to find another venue that could accommodate 150 people. They quickly discarded this option because they only had 48 hours. One person made the brilliant suggestion of renting a small fleet of shuttle vehicles to shuttle all participants from the airport and company headquarters to the hotel and back, 24/7. Consensus was achieved from all team members/Key Players.
Step 5: Create a POA: Together they created a Plan of Action to use shuttle vehicles to accomplish the objective.
Step 6: Take Decisive Action: Bob issued new instructions to all team members/Key Players and supervised all actions. He asked everyone to reconvene at 5 PM that day to share the status of their new assignments. All participants were informed of the situation and the shuttle vehicle solution.
Step 7: Reassess the Situation: At 5 PM that afternoon, Bob met with all team players/Key Players to ensure that everything was ready to move forward with a fleet of shuttle vehicles.
Step 8: Return and Report to your Leader: At 6 PM, Bob called his leader and informed him that everything was ready for the conference. There was no reason to recommend what needed to be done to ensure this didn’t happen again. The Leadership Conference went on without any further problems and turned out to be a great success.
Bob looked defeat in the eye and refused to give up,
snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Can’t You Just Do Nothing?
Sure. But doing nothing is a decision. You have this option every time you’re faced with a problem. Do some problems sometimes correct themselves by doing nothing? Yes. Do some problems get worse by taking action, rather than doing nothing? Yes. Are there some problems that are better left alone? Sure. Just ask any Fire-fighter. Usually, all they can do is contain the fire and just let it burn itself out; let it burn-to-the-ground.
Doing nothing is making a decision by default.
If you feel this is your Best choice, among all the choices you have available at the time, then do nothing – let it burn-to-the-ground. However, doing nothing and waiting are different decisions.
If you decide to wait, ask these questions:
- What are the adverse effects of not acting?
- How long do I have or what must happen (a decision point) before I’m forced to act?
- When is it too late for me to decide?
- How long after I decide, can action begin?
- What are all my options?
- What does my team recommend?
Have a Contingency Plan (CONPLAN) and the needed resources ready and prepositioned. Anticipate. Get ready!
I challenge you to share this information with others because the only way to truly own knowledge is to give it away – one of the great paradoxes in life.
Knowing how to conduct Immediate Action is critical to your career! Are your ready??
In my next post, I’ll focus on how to “Give and Receive Backbriefings.”
Stay tuned! In the meantime, if you need more help, you can learn more HERE.