Recently, I ate at one of my favorite pizza restaurants. The manager, Carlos, told me the story of the crisis he had faced the previous evening. It was a weeknight evening, the restaurant was crowded and things were going great - and then the pizza oven stopped working.
Troubleshooting didn't work, the oven's manual didn't have the answers nor did the senior manager when Carlos called him at home. The corporate head office wasn't any help, either. Carlos called a repair technician, but it was going to take a while for him to get there.
A crowded pizza restaurant + no pizza oven = catastrophe.
What could Carlos do? He called his team together and they made a game plan. The wait staff explained to people who had ordered pizza that pizza was not available and asked if they could order something else. Carlos went table to table apologizing and listening to customers. Some got angry - one couple eventually left - but everyone else eventually took it in stride and ordered something else. Most people realized that it was only a minor inconvenience.
Finally, the electrician got the oven to work at 3 AM. Carlos said he learned a lot about his team that night as they made the best of a bad situation. He learned who was a team player and who crumbled under the pressure.
I've blogged before about managing a crisis (see June 23, 2009 post, How Do You Handle a Mini-Crisis? ) and though both of these examples involve restaurants, the same principles apply in any situation where you have to deal with an unexpected problem.
So think about it - what do you do when the pizza oven stops working? How does your team respond to an unexpected crisis?
Gilda Bonanno's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com