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Issues Before They Are Issues

Hopefully you have all heard the story about Capt. Sully and his landing his distressed plane in the Hudson River. If you haven't, read it. The whole event from takeoff to landing was about 6 minutes - it may take you longer than that to read the story.

What I love about the story is how everyone knew exactly what to do, even though this type of event almost never happens. No one on that crew had ever done that before, yet they knew exactly what to do when it happened. How? Training drills. As part of pilot training, they had regular training drills where they practiced all kinds of scenarios. They did it, then they learned what they did well and what they need to do better and then practiced again. Most pilots probably practice some maneuvers hundreds of time in training and never do it in real life.

As a manager, you should have "drills" on things that don't happen often, but when they do happen, you want everyone to know what to do. It doesn't have to be a long and complicated scenario, but focus on something that could happen and ensure everyone knows exactly what to do.

For example, I led a training group that held regular in person training classes at our corporate office. Being in the midwest, weather can often be an issue. A great discussion would be 10-minute brainstorm at the end of the meeting where we lay out a scenario and discuss the best thing to do. Let's say a snowstorm hits around noon - who makes the decision to end the class so people can get back to the hotel safely? How do they make that decision? Once made, what has to be done? It wasn't to test people and try to trip them up, but I wanted everyone to know what to do so we could simply react.

It may seem silly to use valuable time to think about something that might not happen. When it does, you can be confident that everyone is going to make a smart, quick decision.

How do you keep your team sharp so they react properly?

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