Following on from my article about contingency planning to keep your business running, this piece sets out the three steps you should take to write an emergency plan for your coaching business.
- Be prepared
Preparedness is the rather clunky term used to describe how ready you are to act if the worst happens. Specific action you need to take will depend on what disasters or emergencies you are likely to face. Your local climate will have a big impact. If you are in a hurricane zone you will need to put different plans in place to those made by people who regularly experience blizzards, for example.
My father lives in a village which floods most years. There is a quaint little pub by the river that has hooks along the walls. All the glasses and bottles behind the bar are stored at shoulder height. When a flood warning comes, they hook up the furniture then once the water subsides they hose everything down and open up again. Rudimentary, but effective.
Your Government or local authority will almost certainly have done much of this thinking for you. It may even have training or advice prepared for small businesses. Preparedness really is about thinking through scenarios that might impact your work. This might not directly to do with your own office building – a chemical spill in the neighbouring street may still mean you have to evacuate, for example. It’s worth considering what response you’d need for fire, extreme weather, medical emergency, pandemic or a security threat.
- Check your communications
When I get a power cut my fancy phones don’t work. I bought an old fashioned plug in type to overcome that problem, then realised too late my numbers were all stored in the digital phone memory.
It may sound basic, but it is worth creating a list of key clients’ and colleagues’ numbers, utility services like gas, electricity, water including your account number. Keep a print off in places like your car or home.
Your emergency plan needs to include protocols about who to inform and when, who makes decisions and how they are cascaded. If you work in a shared building have a conversation with the management team about roles and responsibilities. Get to know the security desk and make sure your co-workers know who the first aiders and fire officers are.
For those of us with clients attending our work place, our plans need to include visitors. What systems are in place to account for everyone in the building? Before a plane takes off, the safety announcement includes a demonstration of the emergency exits. We should be as careful with anyone unfamiliar with the layout of our work place.
Also bear in mind that in major emergencies mobile phone and internet networks can be affected. Local radio stations still serve an important community service at these times, both for helping you communicate and keeping you informed.
- Practise your plan
A friend in New Zealand has regular earthquake drills at her work. You may have a legal responsibility to do fire or other drills in your office block. But what if you work from home? It’s worth taking time to think through how you can easily and safely get out. The general advice is to think through two evacuation routes, some local fire brigades offer a home visit service to advise.
The emergency scenarios we are thinking through may not directly affect us: a security alert causing traffic delays, an outbreak of food poisoning at our client’s offices. We can and should still plan for their impact where possible.
Our ICF Core Coaching Competencies encourage us to ‘dance in the moment’. With that flexible yet mindful approach, we can develop plans that allow us a sense of safety without fear. Being prepared without being worried. Thinking through planned solutions, knowing our systems and protocols allows us to focus on our main role as coaches.