How To Escalate An Issue

July 17, 2017 - 5 minutes read

Planning is Key

We do our best as leaders to motivate teams to accomplish initiatives in an organized fashion. Putting a thorough plan in place for a specified initiative is one of the main keys to success.

Tasks are outlined, resources are assigned, and expectations are communicated. The team has taken it a step further by outlining risks and creating contingency plans based on those risks. This allows any team to be as prepared as possible. If an identified risk becomes reality, they know exactly what to do.

What happens if something completely unexpected comes up? Do unexpected issues automatically mean there’s an emergency at hand?

Defining a True Emergency

Creating an efficient working environment helps to keep teams happy. When something unexpected comes up, it’s common for a team to be temporarily stunned. Their first instinct is to react and because the challenge is unexpected, it goes from 0 to 60 very quickly. Before you know it, everyone has stopped and all eyes turn to the issue.

This is a disruption. It’s a disruption that ends up costing time, money, and potentially a hit to morale because everything stops. Frustration increases when the team discovers that what was originally deemed as an emergency is actually a minor hiccup and can easily be overcome.

This is precisely why it’s important to sit down with your team and define what a true emergency is in your working or project environment. By emergency, we mean that if this ONE THING happens, everything else must come to a screeching halt. An emergency is whatever life and death mean for your business.

For an eCommerce business, an emergency is if the website is unable to collect funds.

For a yoga business, an emergency is if the door to the business is jammed and clients aren’t able to attend their yoga session.

Although other crazy things might happen, a true emergency means the most crucial part of your business, the part that enables you to make money and stay open, comes to an utter and complete stop.

Also see: When to intervene as a leader.

Create an Escalation Plan

After your team has defined what a true emergency is (the list should not be long), the next step is to outline a contingency plan. This plan helps define what the team should do if something unexpected comes up.

Because everyone knows what the definition of an emergency is, it takes only a few moments for anyone to understand that something very bad has happened and that help is needed immediately.

Beyond that, the team should know who the point person is for reporting an issue.

If that person is unable to address, they should know who to go to.

Once the issue lands in the lap of the correct person, there should be a way to prioritize the unexpected issue. Is it something that can wait or should it be addressed sooner rather than later?

After priority is determined, the decision-maker should communicate a new plan to the team. They should explain why something happened and what the team should do to address it.

By outlining an escalation plan, only a few people are impacted by the issue rather than an entire project team, department, or company.

Rather than going into reaction mode, team members can constructively report an unexpected issue and receive clear direction about what to do next.

A Non-Issue

Many of the clients that we provide business coaching services to experience faux emergencies at the team level often. In addition, team members aren’t sure where to go or what to do if an issue arises. We also see that many issues that are identified as emergencies at first, ultimately end up being non-issue items. To a business, this means added pressure, stress, and waste time/money is taking place when it shouldn’t have to.

Does your team have an escalation plan in place?