I really hate seeing this offering on a menu because I know the next conversation is going to be ‘Can you tell me what the soup of the day is please?’ ‘Sorry sir, I don’t know, I’ll have to go and ask the chef’.

So whilst I contemplate which main course might be a good option to go with an unknown soup, which is probably made up of random leftovers from yesterday, which I will probably decline anyway, a couple of points come to mind. Firstly I need to avoid restaurants as soon as I see this term on the menu and secondly, how can any organisation allow it’s staff to end up on the front line in such an embarrassing, awkward position?

‘Calm down, Alan, it’s only soup!’ I hear you say.

But the point is this situation arises all over the place – check for yourself over the next few weeks on the number of times a simple request or question has to be referred elsewhere. Better still, check your own organisation to see if it is happening there!

The fiasco is a waste of resources and gives a very poor impression of your organisation, all because no one bothered to train or inform front of house.

So forget soup for a minute, what if it was something important such as, a fire or other type of emergency? Decisions need to be made, procedures and actions triggered and all without taking up time to refer to higher authority for direction.

I spend quite a bit of my time working with Crisis Management and Incident Management teams to ensure they know how to respond to unexpected events. Some organisations take matters a stage further by ensuring other key teams and staff also know what they should do when certain events arise – but not all.

Much has been written and spoken about how the eventual outcome of a crisis can be impacted by the actions taken during the initial phase of the response. In other words, the better informed, trained and practiced front line staff are, the more chance there is of a favourable outcome.

So the message here is train your front line staff in what they need to know, what they need to do so that they can help the overall response. They are adding no value to the process if they have to wait to be told and they simply become another stakeholder demanding information and direction from the higher level teams. Give them some procedures, protocols and authority and they will become part of the solution rather than problem.

I am not suggesting Crisis Management or Incident Management teams shift their responsibilities, rather they make effective use of the skillsets and resources at their disposal by including front line teams in the process from the outset and by involving them in exercise programmes.

Get this right and your procedures will have some depth to them rather than relying on a single entity to generate and manage the whole response.

Enjoy your soup.