“Our moving cart is missing.” Thanks – Manager
This is an actual email I received a few years ago, passing on the message, taking no action, and handing me the problem. The manager of our multi-million-dollar storage facility believed this email was the solution to the problem they faced.
What was the result? Emails, lots and lots of emails.
Where did it go? How many did you have? Did someone take it? When did it go missing? Do you need more? What is the cost to replace? Should we buy more?
Eventually the problem was solved, but at what cost? Nearly 45 minutes later and with an email chain expanding into the horizon of my laptop, the missing cart dilemma of 2014 was finally resolved. We bought another one.
While the desired outcome was eventually reached, disorganized communication caused that outcome to seem far more complicated than it needed to be. Too often this is exactly how things get done, with inefficient and confusing conversations that, while eventually accomplishing a task, leave everyone frustrated and having wasted a large chunk of their day.
As an operator of properties across the state of Florida my primary role is to provide support. With management teams spread across the state, my main objective is to lead our team and provide the tools and training for them to succeed. However, that’s not always done by simply giving them the answers. Sometimes, a more specific strategy is needed; my dad taught me one that I train our team to this day.
My dad, a retired emergency medicine physician, realized early in his career that overlong conversations about a patient’s condition could potentially cost lives. He saw that his team would need a strategy to keep exchanges brief and efficient so that they could save as many lives as possible. So, when he was approached by frantic nurses, instead of tripping over clumsy lines of questioning to piece together what was going on, he would ask, “What’s the S.B.A.R.?”
What Is SBAR
Situation • Background • Assessment • Recommendation
SBAR is a way of thinking about communication designed to help every exchange be as helpful and effective as possible.
When faced with a dilemma, SBAR is your answer. Teaching our self-storage team this simple tool has been one of the most valuable things we have ever done for our operations. Not only has it saved thousands of emails, but it encourages our team to create solutions. Our management team is empowered to think for themselves, and they consistently provide incredible solutions and recommendations to everyday problems, big or small.
Let’s go back to that first email and apply the SBAR method to “Our carts are missing”
Situation: Hi Mark! Unfortunately, we seemed to be missing one of our moving carts.
Background: We have 8 total, but 1 of them has been missing for the last few days.
Assessment: We’ve searched all throughout the property for a few days and we don’t have any credible leads on where it went. Even our cameras didn’t see it disappear.
Recommendation: We would like to place an order today so that we can have a full set of moving carts for the busy week ahead. Also, turns out they’re on sale this week and shipping is free. Can we place the order today?
My answer: Yes. Thanks!
Look how many emails we can save! Even if this conversation was in person, the provided SBAR was simple, effective, and it resulted in a solution. Instead of a problem passed on, an admirable recommendation was given.
As a leader in our organization, it’s amazing to receive an SBAR from our team. Despite the size or scale of the problem, I know that when I’m provided with a solution or a recommendation, our team is growing together. One of our greatest assets in our operation is our team. The people make the difference and each of them can add value. Rather then relying on me as their only resource, they become more resourceful and no longer pass on problems, but always recommendations.