What do you need from me? Those words can mean many things. They could be words of assistance, encouragement, praise, trust, knowledge, confirmation, authority or, also, a kick in the pants. The key steps to being a leader are: employee selection and hiring, training, skill verification, oversight and follow up. I want to talk here about oversight and follow-up.
A convincing example of oversight and follow-up happened during my employment at a large West Coast amusement park. Our park ran smoothly, relying upon great procedures, a good team and many seasoned veterans.
The Perfect Example
As a department manager, I was occasionally called upon to be the Manager On Duty (MOD) during park operation. One evening I had the MOD responsibly. A few hours before scheduled closing, I received a radio call from the night shift security supervisor. He advised that an incident occurred at the Bumper Car ride. A female guest had injured her back. I was a veteran manager, but had not worked directly with this supervisor before in my MOD role.
I called the supervisor on a landline. He explained the scenario and asked me to meet him at the scene. I asked him if he needed my help. He seemed shocked that I did not immediately run to meet him at the Bumper Cars. Too many park staff at a scene can make an incident appear to be more serious than it is.
Since we were new to each other in handling incident response events, I decided to explore his qualifications. I began a Q/A exchange to assess my need to rush to the scene from my location at the far side of the park. Our chat would tell me if I was truly needed on scene, plus I could access this supervisor’s response skills.
I asked him if the guest was seriously injured.
“No, but she wants to go to the hospital to be checked.” he replied.
I asked, “Do you need me to talk to the guest or the family?”
“No, they are not upset. The guest had back surgery four days ago and she wanted to come to the park to enjoy herself after getting out of the hospital.”
“Do you have those exact details in your report?”
He answered, “Yes!”
I questioned if he had the name and contact info of the guest.
“No,” he replied. “EMS has that info.”
I then advised Bill, “It is critical that you also get the guest name and contact info. For patient privacy issues, EMS cannot share that data with us. We need that info in your report tonight, so our claims staff can contact the guest.”
“Oh, I did not know that!” he uttered.
I continued, “Do you need me for crowd control?”
“No. The crowd is light and we have plenty of officers. Guests are leaving the area to ride other rides.”
“Have we gathered Employee Witness Statements (EWS) from our staff?”
The supervisor advised, “The ride supervisor is getting all employee statements before employees clock out and we have taken incident scene photos.”
“Good,” I stated. “But, remind the ride supervisor not to edit the EWS. Employee statements must be submitted unchanged.”
“Is the maintenance supervisor checking for any malfunction?” I quizzed.
The supervisor responded, “Yes, the ride is closed and the maintenance crew is inspecting, documenting their inspection and running a ride test.”
“Great, Bill. The guest is cared for, the EWS are being written, photos are taken, the ride is being checked and the crowd is dispersed. So, what exactly do you need from me?” I inquired.
Bill explained, “The other MODs always want to come to the scene.”
I probed, “Do you feel unqualified to handle these cases and do you like the MODs to always be on site?”
He, then, shyly volunteered, “Well, we like to check with the MOD and let them know what is going on, but sometimes they can be in the way.”
“So, Sergeant, what do you need from me? It sounds like you have it under control, especially now that you understand not to expect EMS to gather critical guest contact info for you. I have your back if you need me, but always tell me precisely what you need from me. I do not want to be another body in the way.”
A cheerful voice on the phone responded, “I copy. We got this!”
The Real Message
Select good people. Train employees well. Remember that training is on-going. You must continue to train your veterans as well as newer employees, so veterans and rookies both practice the same operating procedures. Follow up. Back them up, but ask the probing questions. What do they need to solve a problem and what do they need from you?