How to deal with changes outside of your control

As someone running a business, there are always going to be changes outside of your control that you have to react to, and your ability to cope with these situations often makes a big difference to the success of your business.

One example of this type of situation is a client that takes longer than originally estimated to make decisions, and therefore potentially having a negative impact on cash flow. Another may be something that impacts your business from government level, e.g. when the thickness of 5p and 1p coins was changed, it was expected to cost the vending machine industry over £80m to adapt their machines.

So how do you deal with changes outside of your control so that you are focusing on the “right things” that will help your business move forward?  In our recent book, Cope with Change at Work, we explained how it’s useful to focus on three areas:

  1. Focus on reality – what’s actually going on?
  2. Focus on a wider perspective – how else could I view this?
  3. Focus on personal behaviours – what should I do?

Here are some questions to consider in each area are listed below:

Focus on Reality

  • What is really happening (rather than what I fear may happen)?
  • What can I change about this situation?
  • What (if any) is my part in creating this situation?

Focus on a wider perspective

  • How might I view this situation in a different way?
  • How might my competitors view this situation?
  • What could I learn from them?
  • What are the risks and benefits of this change?
  • If I asked my wise friend what to do, what might they suggest?

Focus on personal behaviours

  • What am I in control of in relation to this situation?
  • How can I take action now to move forwards?

So the next time you have to deal with a change that is outside of your control, be better prepared to tackle it head-on and quickly move forwards, rather than potentially being thrown by it.


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