Having been literally KO’ed in the ring and forced to reinvent himself out of it, the controversial Mike Tyson is perhaps the most appropriate person to utter his oft-quoted line:

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Thankfully, the business world is a non-contact sport, and rarely do even the metaphorical gloves come off.  Heck, we even resort to the occasional fist bump! Still, the former heavyweight champion’s point is well-taken. Though business leaders don’t face the physical repercussions of an uppercut to the jaw, there are equally as devastating financial consequences when your competition has caught you unawares or you have been blindsided by an unexpected employee departure.

The measure of any successful leader – in the ring or in the boardroom – is how well you can adapt to an unexpected situation. Sure, preparation is great, but it’s half the battle. And, it won’t mean squat if you are ill equipped to counterpunch and make the necessary adjustments when faced with adversity.

Let’s take this outside the boxing ring. Imagine two bank managers, faced with the same workplace scenario, but approaching it with two completely different mindsets.

You did everything right when bringing in your latest Relationship Manager (RM). You completed hours of interviewing and vetting, even dedicated significant time to onboarding her, and you have been rewarded with great performance. So much so that you now have designs of moving her up the corporate ladder and into a leadership position within 2 years. But as you try to leave a few minutes before 5 on a Friday so you can beat Memorial Day traffic, you get that unexpected knock on your door followed by: “Hey, sorry, do you have a minute?” In two weeks’ time, your big plan’s going up in smoke.

  • Bank A doesn’t invest in significant talent-management resources, and they’re left to go the traditional in-house route: Without consulting any third parties, they grab someone from their ranks and quickly promote them, only to find that he has little to no managerial abilities.
  • Bank B has already partnered with a trusted resource who has assessed current employees through a scientifically valid tool. Now, using a talent-analytics add-on, Bank B can calmly take an instant snapshot of its workforce. Despite the RM’s departure, it can confidently sort and filter personnel, as well as create talent pools based on the parameters the business knows to be of the utmost importance in the role.

Using analytics, you can prepare and react: the critical combination to success in business and in sports. This way, when your star employee gives her notice, you’re not scrambling. A best-in-class analytics tool provides an all-in-one solution. At once, you can better determine:

  • Whom to hire
  • Who should be promoted
  • Future outcomes
  • Team success

We know the futility of our best-laid plans, so why are so many businesses gambling that preparation alone will suffice when we know otherwise? It’s like fighting with one arm tied behind your back.