What Can a Car Accident Teach Us About Staff Training?

In a crisis, you must take care of people first. At work, that means focusing on emotional intelligence training.

When you are involved in a car accident, you never take care of the car or the traffic first. Instead, you secure the perimeter so no one else gets harmed, call for help, and take care of the wellbeing of the people. Once all this is done, you begin to take care of the car and traffic. Shouldn’t that be the same when an organization is hit by a crisis like COVID-19?

In a crisis, many companies treat people like machines.

Recently a manager told me that emotional intelligence and wellbeing is not on the training schedule of their organization. Instead, it is full of sales training.


The pandemic has thrown people’s lives into disarray. They had to leave their offices, leave their colleagues, and turn their kitchen table into a desk. They are afraid that a loved one might catch a potentially deadly virus. They have their kids running around the house while they try to work. For some, their home is not a physiologically or psychologically safe place. People are struggling, and the organization has nothing better to do than putting on sales training?

I am angry. And rightfully so.

Companies that operate in the midst of a pandemic as if it is business as usual show how much organizations see humans as resources – as replaceable and interchangeable as an automobile in a car accident. Everyone is dealing with uncertainty right now, not just your team. And trading out one person on your team for a new employee will not eliminate that uncertainty. But you can equip your team with the tools they need to manage that uncertainty better.

How can we do it differently?

William Bridges, Ph.D. says in his book Managing Transitions that “transition isn’t an optional ‘if-you-get-around-to-it’ add-on to change; it’s not the icing on the cake that can be forgotten until things ease up and you’ve finished the important stuff. Getting people through the transition is essential if the change is actually to work as planned.”

The pandemic and the resulting lockdown were not planned. They were more like a truck that hit us unexpectedly from the side and pushed us off the road. But the rules of change and transition still apply.

When you arrive at the scene of a car accident, your first priority is the people. In fact, the scenario advances through three basic steps:

Step 1 – Secure the perimeter.

Step 2 – Call for help and give aid to the people involved in the accident.

Step 3 – Evaluate and repair damage to the car so it can be operated safely.

During the pandemic, governments all over the world ordered a lockdown, thus securing the perimeter. But many organizations focused on the operational needs of the company and neglected the well-being of their staff.

In a car accident, we would never take care of the cargo, the car, or the traffic before the people received the aid they needed. We need to have that same priority in our organizations. To shift our mindset, we must realize that humans are not replaceable resources or interchangeable assets; they are people who serve you.

If we want our teams to thrive as they navigate this pandemic, we must equip them with the tools they need to take care of their mental wellbeing first. If someone is mentally and emotionally struggling all our restructuring and operational training is a waste of time. The longer people’s wellbeing is overlooked the worse the impact will be on the bottom line.

In January 2020 – before lockdowns – an analysis by Deloitte reported “poor mental health costs the UK employers up to £45 ($57) billion each year.” And the pandemic did not just hit a few people, but all of us. Few of us were equipped to deal with a situation like this constructively. And that is why people need practical emotional intelligence training and possibly mental health support so they can restructure their lives and find emotional security within themselves again.

Restructuring your business operations will be easy once your staff feels safe within themselves and their new environment. They won’t need much motivation. They will fight for your organization and invest their hearts, not just their minds. They will soak up all training necessary to continue their involvement in your organization because your organization took care of them.

Prioritizing your team over your organization can result in an unprecedented buy-in of the workforce because you took care of them and equipped them with the tools they needed to navigate these unprecedented times.

Just as you would never seek to manage a car accident without calling for help, I encourage you to call for help if you’re not sure of the best way to support your team.

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Sven Lauch
Sven Lauchhttps://eyesup.eu/
Founder of Eyes Up Training Limited, Sven is an emotional intelligence coach based in Plymouth, England. Systematically indoctrinated as a child in East Germany, Sven's life changed at the age of 15 when the Berlin Wall fell. Today, he is an emotional intelligence coach, passing on the skills that helped him break through limiting beliefs, unlock mental blocks, and find emotional freedom. Eyes Up Training Limited provides emotional intelligence training and coaching to help organizations and leaders navigate change and transform their workforce.


  1. The skills involved in emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-control, motivation, empathy and social skills. Embracing the nuances of human emotion in the workplace can have real benefits, better employee collaboration, and a happier work environment. Emotional intelligence is an aspect of our intelligence, which integrates specific technical skills and managerial, managerial and logical skills, with additional skills that can support us in achieving our goals.
    As for staff well-being, human resources also have a crucial role to play in helping people put their well-being first, introducing small changes that will help make the office culture healthier and more positive, but without dictate or impose.
    There is no doubt that a company growth path cannot be separated from the growth of its staff in these two aspects.

  2. Sven,
    This is a most direct,plain speaking account of in some instances, the reality of some companies when faced with a situation such as the Covid pandemic. Automated disaster procedure kicks in, leaving the crucial element behind.

    Emotional intelligence and well being are crucial. Not only is a real human attitude essential, employees will feel wanted and valued. Of course there is a trend to accept remote communication, but there is no substitute, where currently feasible and safe, for face-to face, empathetic engagement.

    A company that treats its staff like automatons will not be thanked.

    So when a truck hits humanity, humanity must come first.

    Brilliant, Sven. Welcome to Bizcatalyst 360.

  3. Thank you, Sven.

    Spot on.

    A couple of snacks for thought: when any organization’s brass (be it family, HOA, company or country) feels threatened, they often respond by generating new rules and don’t take into account that though people need to feel safe, they also need to feel trusted. More rules may trespass heavily on that second, vital need.

    A wonderful fellow, Bill Taggart (this is not “More beans, Mr. Taggart?” from Blazing Saddles, btw), said, “Two things you develop before you need them are relationships and capabilities. You manage things, lead people. People are not things. If you treat people like things, you’ll p*ss them off.”

    Keep on fightin’ the good fight!


    • Thanks Mac. Rules often don’t work because they don’t touch the heart. Rules have one purpose, set boundaries and create freedom within them. Unfortunately, today, rules are becoming how-tos. They don’t connect with personal values, and rather force people to act against their values. That’s one reason why people don’t feel safe.

  4. I am sending my warmest welcome to you! Belonging to this very special community has been a privilege and a blessing! And congratulations for joining the tribe with such an amazingly written piece (both form and content). The metaphor was simply brilliant and so accurate!

    If I may add my 2% here, I’d say servant leadership is crucial in managing emergencies like what the whole world has been going through for months. But, it goes way beyond crises! Collaborators need to be treated as a “whole person” (securing all their needs linked to all their 4 dimensions) instead of “things” ALL THE TIME!

    Use me creatively (mind), pay me fairly (body), treat me kindly (heart) in serving the world in a principled way (spirit).

    Transforming organizations from within would be challenging in the short run, but so worth it in the long one! I tried to explore the process here:


    • A great 2% with 100% value. Yes, people need to be treated as a whole person. And I think, that is why we need to rethink leadership and organisational structure from the ground up.

      One of the fundamental things missing is mentoring in a sense of fathering or parenting. Servant leadership for me is modelled in being a father who raises his children into their own destiny.