I was about to start my presentation, and was told that we couldn’t begin until we had “the safety briefing.” I was intrigued. The team went into a well-orchestrated checklist delegating contingency emergency assignments and ensuring that everyone knew where the nearest exits and fire extinguishers were.
- “Okay, if anyone has a medical condition that could need attention, please write that down and put it into your right pocket.”
- “Raise your hand if you are CPR certified. Okay John you are on CPR.”
- “Who will be our runner?” Meaning doing whatever it took to deliver information.
- “Who will call 911?”
Now I had taught in that room for three semesters before this executive retreat. Not once had I given a thought to the location of the fire extinguisher. I looked to the right of the podium–they had brought their own defibrillator.
Now this may seem extreme, but this company’s number one mission is safety. And if I told you who they were, you would be darn glad that was their priority. Their safety impacts ours.
Making a Safety Plan
A month later I was visiting their corporate headquarters for some follow-up consulting. I entered the conference room and noticed the safety cards you see pictured above in the center of the table. I asked, “Are these part of the visual aids for your action learning project presentation?” Nope. Every single conference room has them. Whenever two or more people are gathered in a conference room, they are required to make their safety plan before they begin their work.
No one expects to come to work and face a 911 emergency. But turn on the news, and the need for a contingency plan feels a bit more pressing.
We prepare for what-ifs in our strategic planning, and if you work in a big company you likely have a formalized disaster recover plan, with an annual drill. When I worked at Verizon, I was listed as mission critical in the safety execution plan, but the truth is if a bomb went off, I’m not sure I would have had the wits to remember to grab that binder. Yes, yes, plan for the big stuff. I would encourage you to also consider having more regular discussions to keep safety top-of-mind and making a plan to keep your team safe in case of emergencies.