Mind the Gap

by : Linda LaPointe

The underground train in London can get you anywhere when you know how to maneuver all the options. Like our subways, London under ground is a busy place. When your train arrives and comes to a stop, you move forward with the crowd, waiting for your turn to get on the train. A man’s voice drones from overhead, warning you over and over: “Mind the gap. . . mind the gap."

There is a crack of about 4 – 8 inches between the platform and the train, where any number of things could fall through. You could lose anything in it: a shoe, a foot, change, a purse could fall into that gap and never be seen again. There is also a small difference in height that could trip you up, so you may need to step up or down a bit as the train will probably not be level with the platform. So every few seconds, once the train arrives, the kind gentleman reminds you to pay attention to that gap. And you do because he sounds so arresting and credible.

Mind your gap Managers need to be reminded to mind the gap, too. We need to develop staff who know how to handle all those situations that fall between the cracks. When not minded, these gaps can cause people to falter or cause any number of losses. Today’s workers handle more unpredictable situations than ever. The solutions for most of these are not outlined in a policy manual. Those that are, usually occur so far away from the manual that it’s not handy anyway. So we need staff who can figure out how to respond to anything.

Internal policies >>> gap <<< External regs

Policies teach staff the internal rules and external regulations, but neither of these address events that are unexpected or unexplained. Our gap to mind then is the space between internal and external expectations where anything can happen, and often does.

How do we prepare staff for minding the gap? By becoming a good coach, like the recorded voice. The good coach makes sure that staff know 1) the philosophy, why? 2) the information, what? and 3) the structure, how? of every task, every form, and every procedure. When they understand the Why, What and How about all facets of the organization, and of their job, staff will be more likely to be able to fill in the gaps that inevitably will arise. Because in this fast-moving business world of today, we have more unexpected, unthinkable, and unexpected events than ever, as we work in a world that is unpredictable. So. . . mind the gap!

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