Employee under the bed

Employee under the bed during attack

Years ago I had a member of staff working in part of Africa, there to supposedly strike a deal on new printers for the local government. As he was going to be some days due to the level of the deal he was staying in a hotel mainly used by westerners particularly reporters in the capital.

I was in the office when a call came through and I couldn’t hear a thing the line was so noisy. I was almost shouting down the phone trying to be heard and I could hear the other person shouting back but could not make out what they were saying.

Suddenly there was a huge noise followed by an immediate lull in noise and then lots of interference. This was rapidly followed by the voice on the other end saying that he was laying under his bed in the hotel and could I let his wife know he was OK as the capital was under attack and likely to be on the news.

The loud noise I had heard was a RPG hitting his hotel. If we had any idea that this would have happened there is no way we would have sent him but it just shows that overnight things can sometimes change beyond all recognition. He wasn’t a war reporter or anything like that just a technical sales manager. Now if you think your day has been disrupted or changed around due to some mishap such as a delayed train or someone off sick then place yourself in this type of situation.

For those interested he was safely evacuated some weeks later perfectly well and unhurt, although not too keen or returning to Africa.

In these situations the biggest problem is that you aren’t an expert. You haven’t gone through years of training like the Special Forces, so how do you act and react. Forget everything you see in the movies nothing actually happens like that and if it did the biggest issue, one of pure unadulterated fear doesn’t show.

As business people running companies it’s hard to imagine how out of your depth you will be. I always try and relate a situation to something we are familiar with but in this case it is difficult to do so. However try to think of it like the first day of work after leaving school but instead of starting as the office junior someone made the mistake of taking you on as CEO. That times tenfold is how out of your depth you are.

Now we know there are expert organisations often employing former special forces and intelligence staff in rescuing people in these situations but that is not the area of my expertise. Instead my approach is from the position of a former Director in London.

What I am interested in managers, directors and HR knowing is that there is simple easy to follow training available from a business perspective in how to identify and mitigate risk, after all, that is what we as business teams do every day.

If you have any stories or you have had a call to beat this then drop us a note we would love to hear