“Top 10” Team Readiness Trigger Points

Published on January 16, 2011 in "Top Ten" Lists | No Comments

A trigger point is a condition, incident, situation that requires a team or team member to take action.  Trigger points are like alarms that call team members to action. Often they require that immediate action be taken, where time is of the essence and there is little room for mistakes (e.g., fires, medical emergencies, etc.).  Perhaps most important, when a trigger point occurs, team members MUST BE READY to respond — the time for mitigation and preparation has passed!

We’ve prioritized a list of trigger points that we believe most require team members to be ready to address when they occur. Our prioritization ranking is based on the following criteria:

            1. Time to Action – How long can the team or team member wait before they take action?
            2. Probability of Occurrence – How likely is it that this incident will occur?
            3. Severity of Consequences – How much damage could this incident cause?

With the trigger points we’ve listed, preparation is the key to success. Team members must be ready to deal with them. They come without warning. They make no provision for “do overs.” They are consequential and unforgiving. Perhaps the best way to achieve trigger point readiness is to anticipate them in advance; Formulate and implement plans and procedures to address them; and have team members train on them regularly. Because ready or not, here they come…


1. Serious medical incidents.

  • Examples:

    • Choking or obstruction that prevents breathing.
    • Heart Attack.
    • Seizures.
    • Fainting and the resulting fall.
    • Stroke.
    • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

2. Man-made hazards that destroy life and property.

  • Examples:

    • Fire.
    • Trips/slips or falls.
    • Electrical incidents.
    • Manual handling/lifting.
    • Handling harmful substances
    • Struck or trapped by moving or falling objects.
    • Fork-lift truck accidents.

3. Natural hazards that destroy life and property.

  • Examples:

    • Tornadoes and high winds.
    • Floods.
    • Ice Storms and hail.
    • Thunderstorms and lightning.
    • Hurricanes.
    • Heat waves.
    • Earthquakes.

4. Customer emergencies.

  • Examples:

    • Last minute changes that jeopardize other business activity and orders.
    • Mistakes that require immediate correction.
    • Mistakes that result in penalties, fines or loss customers.
    • Deadlines at risk of not being met.
    • Angry customers where what you say or do in that moment will affect future business.

5. Liabilities, violence, and opportunities for trouble.

  • Examples:

    • “Jokes”, emails, or comments could contain racist, sexist, incriminating or hostile language.
    • Reprimands or disciplinary action that could contain racist, sexist, or hostile language.
    • Malplacement Liability.
    • Good Samaritan Liability.
    • Physical threats, assault, or attack with a deadly weapon.
    • Sexual harassment, inappropriate touching.
    • Negligence.
    • Shoplifters.
    • Customer makes false claims to get compensation (e.g., Restaurant food was bad; trip & fall in your parking lot, etc.)

6. Surprise audits or inspections.

  • Examples:

    • Health Department inspectors show up at your restaurant.
    • OSHA inspectors arrive at your facility.
    • BOEMRE inspectors land on your drilling rig.
    • JCAHO inspector shows up at your hospital for an unannounced full survey.

7. Timely problem resolution and task completion.

  • Examples:

    • Problems that shut down the manufacturing plant.
    • Irate customers that repeatedly bring their product in for service on the same problem.
    • Facility problems that inhibit or prevent tenant operations.
    • Routine tasks are not getting done fast enough causing customer complaints.
    • New product development problems that delay product launch.

8. Cyber security, identity theft, intellectual property security.

  • Examples:

    • Infections in email attachments.
    • Internal sabotage and infiltration.
    • Hackers.
    • Harmful web sites.

9. Shift coverage.

  • Examples:

    • People lacking the necessary expertise cause problems (Malplacement Liability).
    • Someone goes on vacation or takes ill and there is no one else to cover.
    • People leave and all the knowledge goes with leaving a hole in the team’s capability.
    • New team members cannot get trained fast enough.

10. Preventive maintenance triggers.

  • Considerations:

    • What is the trigger point on a machine, tool, etc., that alerts a team member to take action to avoid problems?
    • What should team members do when the trigger point occurs?

Three Recommendations:

  • 1. Identify your team’s readiness trigger points (situations they must be ready to address) for their area(s) of responsibility.

  • 2. For each trigger point, consider each phase of the “Emergency Management” framework to determine actions that will best help your team achieve readiness.

    • Mitigate — Take action to eliminate any chance of an incident or to eliminate risks.

    • Prepare — Take action to train and drill so you are can execute the plan when called.

    • Respond — Execute the plan when the “trigger point” is reached; when the “alarm” is sounded.

    • Recover — Take appropriate action after the plan has been completed and the situation has been addressed.

         3. Let TeamReadiness help. We can assist with the entire process. And quickly and cost effectively identify your trigger points          and document your plans, procedures, policies, and practices so your teams and team members can use them for reference,          training, collaboration, communications to achieve team readiness.

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