The history of complex enterprise wide systems implementations and support are littered with stories of failure, risk and consequences. Every person on the value chain of a systems implementation emotionally buys in to the excitement of the potential outcomes for process automating systems. The humans that architect, create requirements, develop, configure, test and support these systems are not perfect. Problems happen; some are catastrophic – some are merely annoyances.
The interesting thing to observe about these problems is how people react and behave during an episode of crisis due to a system failure.
People will show you who they really are in these times of duress. Their behavior may be calm, in control, level-headed and methodical, or they could become over-the-top or aggressive. Whether positive or negative, when someone shows you their true colors, believe them. That is who that person really is. Much like the song of the same name, “True Colors.”
This lesson was pointed out to me mid-career. I wish I had observed it earlier.
During my Cerner career I had the opportunity to manage the Immediate Response Center (IRC) and the Situation Management group. Both tended to get involved in serious systems failures with life critical risks and consequences. One of the shift managers in the IRC, “PF,” followed the same course of action no matter what the situation. He would take in the problem statement, say “One moment please,” discuss with the team, ask the client any refining questions in a monotone voice, resolve the issue, and wish the caller a “Good evening.” His approach had a way of calming the client – sending the message of confidence and competence rather than contributing to the emotions of the moment. PF (retired now) was an expert, and his teams tended to also follow his leadership, approaching serious situations in a controlled, professional manner.
Lessons learned here:
Watch and learn from how leaders and others react under extreme duress. It will provide great insight on how that person is wired.
If you lead, lead in a controlled and professional way. The teams you build will be a reflection of you.
Before you personally fly off the handle on some call center person, think about the old country saying, “You will attract more flies with honey than vinegar.”
Are you calm in a storm? Share some of your experiences with how a crisis was handled.