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  • Writer's pictureJerry Olson

There Will be People Waiting for You

I was strapped to a gurney with my head and neck embolized. As the EMTs gently pulled me out of the helicopter and rolled me across the roof of the Mayo St. Mary’s Hospital, one of them leaned over and quietly said “There will be people waiting for you in the ER.”

Earlier that day I had crashed my bicycle into a moving car, face-planted onto the hood, and tumbled into the ditch which resulted in a broken neck and spinal column injuries. I did not fully understand the meaning of the EMT’s comment to me until a full day later.

I first saw them as I was rolled down the hall toward the ER. They were indeed waiting. Fully gowned and masked, standing at attention silently on both sides of the hallway in my peripheral vision as I watched the ceiling lights float by above me. As my gurney turned the corner into the first ER treatment room, those standing at attention sprang into action. It was a flurry of movement and a cacophony of noise as a dozen or so people all diligently started their work. Immediately there was someone firmly holding my head, while another quietly spoke into my left ear, as quickly, in unison, at the direction of some voice, more than a dozen hands smoothly moved me from the gurney to a bed. Then two more people took an arm each and started IVs, several more on each side were doing things I couldn’t keep track of. Machines started whirring and beeping.

The next day as I lay in an ICU bed after multiple tests, scans, and x-rays, another doctor stepped into my room. What she told me brought clarity and understanding about the EMT’s comment that “There will be people waiting for you in the ER.”

She introduced herself as a member of the Trauma Team that cared for me in the ER the day before. I thanked her and commented that it was quite an experience to have about a dozen people pay so much attention to me. She told me:

“Yes, that’s our Trauma Team. In addition to the 12 people you saw, there were five more team members waiting in the hallway just in case you needed their expertise. We gathered in the ER 15 minutes before you arrived.

As we wait, we each tell the entire team who we are and what our job will be. That way we are all clear who is doing what and can do it efficiently and effectively. Everything needed gets done. Nothing is missed. Nothing is duplicated.”

My simple observations of some things that made that team effective and high performing were:

1. Structure. Everyone had a clear job to do. They knew exactly what they were doing and depended on others to do things not in their job. “Nothing was missed. Nothing was duplicated.”

2. Preparation. They obviously were well-trained and competent in what they were doing. They didn’t have to stop and wonder or ask questions. They just did their work.

3. Communication. During my 25 minutes with the trauma team, un-numbered important things were clearly communicated and recorded about my health by multiple people, all at the same time.

4. Trust. I don’t know how well the team knew each other, but it was crystal clear that they trusted each other in the work they did. Some were doctors, some were nurses, some were technicians. Not one person stopped to question what someone else was doing. They just trusted and depended on each other to do their work.

What a wonderful experience to be served so well by a team of experts who were waiting and ready for me as I arrived. Not all our businesses are focused on saving lives. But all of our businesses can have a team of people “waiting for” the people you serve.

Do your customers feel like “there are people waiting for them” when they encounter your business? What will you do to better structure, prepare, communicate, and build trust with your team?

Author, Jerry Olson, is a Business Advisor with The Resultants™. To learn more about Jerry, visit our Team Page or connect with him on Linkedin.

A special note from Jerry: Wear a helmet on every bike ride. My helmet prevented serious head and face injuries. It took the brunt of the impact when my face hit the hood of the car. While my neck was broken, and my spinal column ligaments were injured, I had no head injury. Not even a headache.


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