How I Saved My Company Over $10,000 per Hour with 5 Key Steps to Solving Emergency Issues
Aug 20, 2023
Read Time: 4 Minutes 30 seconds
It is inevitable that you will face a business crisis when you work in technology. Some business owners think everything that goes wrong is an emergency.
A few that I’ve faced over the past couple of decades:
- Hardware failures leading to downtime.
- Software crashes leading to downtime.
- Ransomware led to lost data and downtime.
- Insider threats disrupt production environments causing downtime.
A clear trend you see is that I only consider something a crisis that needs an emergency response. Classify patterns that look like the beginning of downtime as an emergency.
I don’t consider something a crisis that only affects one person. This includes the CEO. The situation would need to be unique to cause a one-person crisis.
A key trait that I developed by the time I was 20 was never to go into panic mode. I was so good at not going into panic mode that it bothered other senior leaders.
The CIO of the business I worked for in my early 20s comment he didn’t like that I stayed so cool.
He was wrong of course.
The company at the minimum ran on $10,000 per hour in only employee salary. There were over 150 employees in 2 states. This doesn’t include lost clients or other operating costs.
It would take me 3 or 4 times as long to recover from an emergency if I stopped to give an update every few minutes.
Downsides of Panic
How does going into panic mode help solve an emergency faster?
Answer: It doesn’t. It slows everything down costing more time and money.
Here are my 5 Keys to Staying Calm in an Emergency
Key 1: Acknowledge the Problem Fast
Don’t ignore early warning signs if something appears to be going bad. You could stop it from getting worse.
Immediately inform your team members when you see warning signs of an emergency.
The faster you identify a potential emergency the quicker you reduce the impact.
I have never been more frustrated with someone that refused to tell me that there were signs of problems. Create a communication culture.
Another member of the team may be able to solve the problem that you can’t.
Key 2: Take a Deep Breath
Pause for a quick deep breath once you have recognized you have an emergency.
You got this.
Key 3: Ignore Everyone Else Around
Through the 2010s it wasn’t uncommon for most of the corporate IT to be in the office server room. Hot sites and cold sites were only dreams for the small business IT director. System crashes would affect both customers and employees at the same time.
I would lock myself in a room. Most of the time it was the server room. I would lock the door and ignore the bangs and yelling through the door every 2 minutes. I wish I could say I was exaggerating. I ignored everyone, from the CEO down.
The only people allowed to talk to me were other team members assisting with solving the problem.
Turn off your cell phone. No texts, calls, or other messaging app alerts.
Interruptions hurt progress.
Key 4: Manage Your Own Emotions in Front of Your Team
Your team feeds off your emotional state. If you worry, they will worry. If you are at ease, they will be at ease.
I led a tech project for a new contract. The terms of the contract were a disaster. The deadline kept shrinking. The requirements kept changing and growing. We were working 14–16-hour days.
The COO and Sales lead was in panic mode for weeks on end. They kept interfering with my team. They wanted long status meeting updates almost daily. My team was getting a flurry of new directions every few hours. It was causing frustration everywhere.
Performance was starting to drop. The panicky nature of the senior leaders was rubbing off on my team. But not me. I was pissed.
I told my team if the directions do not come from me ignore them. I don’t care. I will take the heat. I told the COO and Sales to back down.
The team’s emotional state balanced out after that. We finished the 6-week project with 3 hours to spare.
It is amazing to watch everyone run around acting crazy. It was as if the world was ending because you couldn’t send an email. Unless you work in a war zone or a hospital the world is not ending.
Key 5: Prepared the Next Time
It’s impossible to prepare for everything. We all have budgets. Prioritization comes into play. Debrief after the incident. Put in safety precautions to avoid the problem happening again.
Automate a trigger warning system to give yourself notice as early as possible.
Stay calm, cool, and collected,
People notice that level of professionalism.
That’s all for this week.
See you next Sunday.