When things don’t go to plan

The Olympic Games have caused more than a bleary eye in the workplace and for many of us it is an opportunity to watch sports we don’t normally get to see, to see champions rise to the challenge, witness a ‘come from behind’ win and cheer on the best athletes from all around the world.

The athletes have trained hard, they have prepared themselves physically and mentally and for some, all that hard work accumulates into hundreds of a second or minutes in their events.

It is no wonder that when things don’t go to plan, like the Australian 4 x 100 mens swimming relay team missing out on a medal, that emotions are high and there is great disappointment from not only the athletes, but also the families, the rest of the team and the Australian public.

There has been a lot of focus and discussion on how James Magnussen and others reacted after their loss, now lets remember that the relay team finished their race and within five minutes were speaking with a reporter about what went wrong. James found it difficult to comprehend what had just happened, to access his words and articulate what went wrong. For this he, and other members of the Olympic team, have been criticised by the media and vocal talk back radio (experts).

How do you react when things don’t go to plan? How might you react if instantly there was a microphone in front of you asking for answers?

Think about how you react when your colleagues don’t perform as well as they should. Do you jump on them right away expecting an answer? Do you identify what has happened and give them an opportunity to first reflect and then respond?

Whilst James is an elite athlete, we have to appreciate that he, like all of us, may need time to reflect before he can articulate what went wrong.

We need to acknowledge in the workplace that mistakes happen and give people time to reflect so that we can ask great coaching questions in order to move forward.

What great coaching questions can you ask yourself to improve your performance when things don’t quite go to plan?

What great coaching questions can you ask to help individuals gain awareness about what went wrong and to find a new way to move forward to greater success?

Luckily for most of us we don’t have the world watching when we make a mistake or our plans don’t work out. Perhaps we should forgive James, and others, for their reactions immediately after their events and continue to support them in the Australian way.

If we do this in the workplace, then we build a culture that we can be proud of.