You have a boss who, when something goes wrong, pushes the panic button immediately. He (She) pulls people off assignments, and gets everyone involved. There’s a Problem, and it has to be fixed NOW. It’s all hands on board.
It’s not a bad thing, of course, when a leader chooses to take fast and decisive action to correct a situation. But the Panic Button Boss seems to do this on a daily or weekly basis. And the ensuing drama doesn’t diminish even when the Problem is relatively small or insignificant. The issue of course is that it disrupts your day-to day deliverables, and creates a lot of unnecessary anxiety in the workplace.
What do you do?
One of the reasons that panic button bosses behave the way they do is that aren’t particularly good at thinking ahead. They get surprised a lot. They’re focused on plan A, and have given absolutely no consideration to Plans B, C or D. So when Plan A doesn’t work, they’re scrambling.
One of the best ways for reducing the number of times Panic Button bosses overreact is to do the anticipation for them. Run ‘what it’ scenarios in your own mind, and identify possible solutions. Then, put your thoughts on paper as simple little ‘Plan B’ options for specific situations.
For example, what if a critical item for a customer doesn’t get shipped on time? You might identify a 3-step process such as:
a) Contact the client immediately to let them know there will be a delay, and to manage their expectations
b) Change the shipping for those items to maybe a same-day or next-day delivery
c) Check everything else that is in the pipeline for that client to make sure that everything is going smoothly, so you can reassure the client that this is a one-time situation
Once you’ve created a Plan B, pick a moment when your boss isn’t in panic mode, and present it to him. You can even identify the individuals who will take on certain roles. I.e.: Susan will call the client, Bob will arrange to expedite the shipping, and Sally will investigate the upcoming shipments.
There are three benefits to taking this approach. The first is that your boss now has a Plan B for when the situation arises, and doesn’t become quite as flustered. The second is that, over time, your boss will gradually begin to understand the benefits of planning in advance. Thirdly, and not the least important, the boss will begin to appreciate your value in the organization, and see you as someone who is proactively working to create better results.
“What if” is a tremendous tool for preparation, but can be paralyzing in the decision making process. use it wisely.