Handle mishaps at work, even during the most chaotic situations
When we plan events, implement a new process or even test out a new service provider, we have a plan, a precise idea on how things are going to work, then we face reality: everything doesn’t go our way. An Office Manager’s life includes several mishaps, even more than other professions. The difference between a good Office Manager and an excellent Office Manager is often about the way they handle unexpected situations.
Some might collapse due to the pressure from the unknown, and the joyful mess caused by mishaps, while others don’t give up and find ways to overcome adversity.
But treating mishaps at work isn’t an innate thing: one learns this, you can practice and improve yourself. This is how:
Take a moment to think
In some situations, it is important to take action immediately: if your computer screen suddenly decides to catch fire, don’t wait for 20 minutes before running towards the closest fire extinguisher. However, in most cases, the best option is to take a moment to think and make sure that your reaction is the right one.
For example, if you hired a caterer to nourish all the glutton guests for your annual keynote and the latter stands you up at the last minute, don’t hurry and make ham-cheese sandwiches yourself. The idea may not seem so appealing when you begin grilling cheese on stale bread and you may wonder, why didn’t you simply call this faithful service provider, who never disappoints you with his home-made Lasagnas.
In any case, regardless of what you do: don’t panic. People won’t be really willing to cooperate with you, if you’re not able to control your stress. Plus, panic is contagious.
Remember all the situations of your professional past where you had to deal with chaos and you managed overcoming problems, like with this never-ending tax control, where you managed, of course painstakingly, providing all the necessary documents. Now you know you are capable of dealing with mishaps.
And what about all the moments where you didn’t take proper action and made mistakes? No issues, you learnt from your mistakes. You’re now equipped to face mishaps and even stronger than before.
Another way of seeing things when one faces adversity, one should see this as a disguised opportunity. An opportunity to show your entrepreneurial mind, your resistance to pressure and prove leadership. Knowing how to keep a positive attitude in the flames of hell, is always rewarding in the end, for sure!
Know how to ask for help
Ok, mishaps can be opportunities to prove how capable you are of handling a crisis situation; however, this doesn’t mean flying solo as soon as this happens. Don’t ignore your colleagues, their skills and knowledge, at times they are smarter than they may seem. It may be worthwhile asking for help or for a second opinion, in case of a doubt. Just avoid blaming others for your own issues, otherwise they’ll take perverse pleasure the next time you go see them, when you you’re dealing with an issue.
Be flexible and resourceful
This morning, you had planned on updating your company’s wiki and the workers have decided to do works in your street, and have inadvertently cut the optical fiber, which supplies power to your office. Without any connection, you can’t do anything you had planned. Nevertheless, are you going to settle for going and insulting these workers and then deciding to go home as you can’t do anything else? Surely, you can do many things without any need for internet connection, like writing mails which you could send later, planning this meeting with the marketing department as it was impossible finding a slot for 3 weeks (without internet connection, they can’t work either, so make the most of it). Try to think ahead and be resourceful.
Assess, what can be done to avoid this problem in the future
You’ve survived the storm and things worked out well. Is this the time to forget the issue and move on? Yes and no. Firstly, you need to assess what happened: how this mishap came along, how you handled it and how you could have handled it more efficiently. In case of successive internet failures, isn’t it time to call upon another operator or buy a backup modem?
This may also be a time to discuss with your colleagues, get their vision on things and find out if they could have handled things better. Exterior opinion is always interesting.
Accept, and expect mishaps
John Allen Paulos, a famous American mathematics professor, writer and lecturer once said: “Uncertainty is the only certainty which exists”. Wise words.
Regardless of your working habits, you can’t avoid mishaps. You can expect these to come along when you least expect them.
Some people are able to cope better with mishaps than others. Why? Simply because they expect mishaps and therefore are prepared. For example, these people save their data on an external drive, in case of a virus launched by Russian hackers. You can’t be prepared for all contingencies, but you can protect yourself against regular issues.
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