By: Steven Seiller
Administrator and Problem Behavior Solver
You only call me when you have problems. But that is ok.
As a provider of crisis management training, my job is not just to provide you with training but, more importantly, to help you change negative and costly incidents into opportunities to grow and succeed. For me, the job isn't done until you are headed in the right direction with the proper momentum.
So, how do we know when we reach the destination? Or even that we are headed in the right direction?
When we sit down to discuss your training plan, we will first discuss what is happening in your program that has you thinking about crisis management training. Not just specific events, but what is the frequency, severity and cost of these problems? Costs can not only be measured in dollars, but also in terms of their impact on achievement, efficiency, morale and reputation.
Then there's the roadmap. How do you want to go about solving these issues? What are the priorities, preferred methods, resources and constraints? Do you prefer to have an expert come in, assess the situation and guide you with a plan? Or do you prefer to drive yourself after being given the tools and training to do the job?
Finally, the destination! Well, what is the destination? What are you trying to achieve? Where is the point at which you can breathe easy knowing that you are on your way to your chosen goal? If you don't know when you've arrived, you might not know when to let off the gas on the expenses you are incurring to remedy the situation.
Metrics: The Secret Weapon of Success
Even if you run a school district or a non-profit organization, it still needs to run as a business in order to keep the doors open. Business Metrics are those quantitative measurements you monitor which reflect the agency's performance and achievements. Standard business metrics include revenue, expenses and return on investment (ROI). Indicator issues related to the need for crisis management and safety training typically include:
- Number of Incidents
- Property damage costs
- Injury claims costs
- Staffing costs
- Consultant costs
- Legal costs
- Insurance costs
- Staff turnover
- Staff hiring and training costs
- Administrative costs
- Regulatory compliance and penalties
- Morale costs
By selecting and monitoring key performance indicators you will always know where you are, where you are headed and how close you are to your destination goal. As with driving, you often don't realize how fast you are going until you look down at the dashboard. Without a dashboard of critical indicators, you could be driving off a cliff without even realizing it!
The metrics you establish for your needs not only help you determine how close you are to your destination, but can also help you determine if you are actually going in the wrong direction!
What data you track is up to you. How you collect and analyze the data is also your decision. The data analysis process could be as simple as counting the number of Incident Reporting Forms in a folder for a certain period, program or individual. Or, you could mine existing systems for data such as HR hire and separation totals. A database will serve you well although you will first have to design it and then maintain the record entry process.
The most effective dashboard metrics will be those which are continually updated and which can be assessed at any time. Can you imagine having to wait any amount of time to know what your vehicle's speedometer or gas gauge read?!?
An agency contacted me about some significant incidents they were experiencing which were jeopardizing their licensure. Despite the severity of the situation, the Assistant Director was concerned about spending $2000 on a training plan. He did explain to me that with each incident, he and the Executive Director together spent about 20 hours picking up the pieces. After roughly estimating their salary and benefits at $50 per hour, some quick math showed they were burning $1000 per incident in wages for just two of the people involved. This figure also didn't account for the time of others nor the cost to their reputation. But looking at the cost of the problem showed that the training plan would pay for itself after preventing just two future incidents. Here, they hadn't looked at the dash to see how fast they were spending money on the problem and had no basis for comparing that to the cost of a proactive solution.
A school district estimated the cost of replacing a certificated teacher at $40,000. A risk management provider told me of a district which had spent over $24,000 in legal fees to ensure they had their ducks in a row to fire a staff who kicked a student. Had they previously sent that staff to a RIGHT RESPONSE Workshop, they would have ensured the staff knew such an act was wrong, provided the staff with proactive skills to better address the incident and would have had ready training documentation as grounds for dismissal. And they would have spent only 1% of what the legal fees cost them.
A social services agency estimated that replacing entry level staff costs them over $2000 each. Look at just the tangible costs of advertising, recruiting, screening, hiring and 60 hours of basic training and you will see how it adds up - although these costs are not so easy to spot in one lump sum! The truer cost of losing a staff is $4000: $2000 lost on the person who left + $2000 to train a replacement (and maybe higher if you could measure the loss of experience leaving with the departing.) If you are complaining about high staff turnover, you should definitely be looking at the costs and the causes of the issue.
Using Your Crisis Driven Dashboard WorksheetThe Dashboard Worksheet can be used in many ways:
- establish a baseline of specific issues
- set goals for specific issues
- periodically re-assess the metrics of specific issues
When we first sit down to discuss your training needs we will identify the target issues of most critical concern. Next, we need to establish the metric which serves as the best gauge for measuring its impact. Each metric has a unit of measure. Examples might include:
- Assaults: 2.37 per day
- Property Damage: $1832 per month
- Staff Turnover: $4000 per person
- Reputation Issues: 3 calls per week from Licensor
The dial allows you to indicate the severity of the issue. Draw an arrow from the dial center to the portion that indicates the severity. To the left, green means good. To the right, red is a warning. This indication may be subjective, but it still provides a valuable insight into how the issue affects your agency and program performance. What is more illustrative is the ongoing comparison of this dial today to your periodic reviews of this issue and to a dial you set as a goal. As much as possible use real data, but short of that, your gut instinct will provide more guidance to your team and training consultant than nothing at all.