Well known concept of ‘Risk Management’ is being discussed for long in various forums. This concept is being used for managing business risks by business houses, by insurance companies for potential risk assessment of cases, by safety personnel’s for assessing the degree of safety in work area etc.

In fact, I also learnt about it when I first went to take training for a certified course for safety auditing. In that training, our trainer explained about the ‘4T method of risk management’ for assessing the safety level in a work place. Since then, this 4T method has created a niche in my mind and I try to apply it in other fields of life, particularly in the field of human relation.

I find it very useful to assess the degree of intimacy to be maintained in case of interpersonal relationship with colleagues or peers in the work place. I apply it in my personal life also with equal effectiveness.

For the benefit of my readers, let me explain the 4T risk management strategy once again in the light of my own understanding. The spectrum of risk I would cover in my discussion is the risk of maintaining interactive relationship with problematic personnel and to handle other problematic issues we face in the course of our life journey.  I have ascertained that it is actually not ‘4T’, it is ‘1S &4T’ method of risk management. Nobody talks about this ‘S’ component, but in actual life practice this ‘S’ component is very important and used again and again in the process of risk management. This 1S &4T can be expanded as under:

  • S = Scrutiny
  • T1 = Terminate
  • T2 = Transfer
  • T3 = Treat
  • T4= Tolerate

I have seen various orders of placing ‘T’s in various documents, but as per my understanding I would prefer to order them as above. Why so? I will try to make it logically clear in the following discussion, while expanding on the meaning of S and Ts. 

S = Scrutiny

Though, I have already mentioned earlier that ‘S’ is not visible anywhere in standard documents of ‘4T’, but I prefer to add it here based on my own experience. However, I can’t claim the complete credit of creating it, as in one write up, I have seen a similar concept. It means, there are people who are thinking alike. 

I place ‘S’ first in my order, because I think whatever decision we want take about any discomfort, problem or risk, we need to scrutinize the prevailing situation very carefully before deciding the action. Same action tends to yield different results in different situation. For example, once I had some complain about the bad behavior of one of my peers, who was working in a different function, but needed to do regular interaction with me.I was upset, so  informed the incidence to my CEO and HR Head, with a request to shift him from the task of interacting with me. CEO informed me that, they already had received many serious complaints about that person, so deciding to take appropriate measure very soon. This was the outcome of my (and others) complain in one business scenario. 

In a dynamic business situation, in next couple of weeks or so, our business scenario got changed in such a way that the particular person became an immediate essential asset to the organization, because of his expertise in a particular field. Therefore, the earlier decision of the top management about him needed a quick reversal for the good interest of business and the remained untouched with his all roles and responsibilities. So, we can see that my attempt of getting rid of him yield a different result as the situation changed. This kind of things are common in real life and we need to be extremely careful before initiating an action.

However, ‘S’(scrutiny) is an activity that can actually be done at the very first stage and repeatedly at various stages during the entire process of ‘4T’ management. 

T1 = Terminate (avoid or eliminate)

Whatever I have experienced in life, termination should be the first option when we are in the process of handling a problematic issue in life. Termination means, resolving it permanently or if not practicable, avoid it all together in the first hand. Ultimately, peace of mind is only important in life, in the long run. A peaceful mind improves productivity and escalates efficiency. So, as a general practice, ‘terminate’ any problematic relationship, be it is professional or personal life is the best option, whenever possible.

On the other hand, we need to apply a caution, when we are going to terminate. Because,

in practical situation, it is not always possible to eliminate all problematic issues or relationships, as there are multiple dimensions of interests might be attached to it. Therefore, sometime next best option is to ‘transfer’ it elsewhere.

A simple example of it is adulteration in food staff. We don’t accept it and want to terminate, but it is beyond our control. So, we avoid buying food staff from untrusted sources. That way eliminating the problem for us for the time being and transferring it to another segment. 

T2 = Transfer (shift to another dept.)

In the examples given earlier, you can notice, I tried to transfer the problem of regular interaction with someone as I wasn’t comfortable, because it was not possible for me to terminate him on my own in the existing information exchange relationship. Some other examples of transferring problems we experience in professional life is, when a non performing employee gets transferred from one dept. to another, in search of a suitable job role, where he/she can perform better.

T3 = Treat (control or reduce)

When transfer is not possible for some reason, we try to improve upon the issue. Either by providing training to a non-performer or by limiting the exposure or interaction to the problematic colleague. Another way is to implement various measures to control or reduce the possible damage/conflict to an acceptable level.

In one occasion, I had to work under a bad boss, who wanted me to surrender myself sacrificing self-respect. Otherwise, he used to apply various torturing tactics and used to get pleasure out of it. Since, losing self-respect wasn’t acceptable to me, moreover at that point of time I wasn’t in a position to leave that job at once, hence with a great helplessness in mind, I tried to ‘treat’ the situation by the way of gifting him management books and also picking up some local mementoes for him, while I am in business trips. These actions helped me to control the situation to some extent maintaining my self-respect. Eventually, he started (I guess) considering me tolerable to an extent that, instead of damaging more, he initiated to transfer me to another division and I also got some time to find a new job. 

One point to be kept in mind here, that ‘treating’ attract some cost, either it is money or self-esteem or other conveniences etc. Therefore, we need to apply ‘S(Scrutiny)’ once again before taking up any action, in order to judge the cost effectiveness of our proposed action.

T4= Tolerate (accept and monitor)

Life can neither be trouble free, nor full of association of harmonious people. We come across interpersonal issues and many other kinds of troubles on daily basis, where we keep on wondering and can’t find it suitable to apply any of the ‘Ts’ from 1 to 3. In such cases we left with no options, but to choose to ‘tolerate’ (T4) the issue as a practical solution. 

Also, in many situations, when we apply ‘S’ and find out, that the gain is more in tolerating than applying any of other measures of 3 ‘T’, we accept the situation with close monitoring along with continuous corrective or damage control measures. As in the cases of patients with incurable diseases.

In my first example, in a changed situation, when CEO scrutinized again and found the benefits of retaining/tolerating (a troublesome employee) is more than terminating, he had changed his decision to protect the interest of the business.

Heat Map Model

We need to imbibe the bitter fact that; it is impossible to resolve the problems or issues fully. Eventually, we need to accept (tolerate) some portion of it, as an inherent part of our daily life with mitigation measures. We accept it consciously after due scrutiny and ‘monitor’ it constantly, so that it never goes out of proportion and become fatal. This is the essential lesson from 1S 4T management.

The Heat Map Model below gives us an idea that, how much trouble we can take up depending upon our individual status.

This model is an inherent part of 1S &4T management. When we understand, we can use it in our decision making process. For an easy understanding, let us follow the colour of the blocks. 

  • ‘Green’ represents comfort. Here the situation is ‘cold’ and we don’t call it a ‘problem’ or an ‘issue’, till the time it lies within the zone boundary line. 
  • Crossing this line situation starts becoming little problematic, but well tolerable. ‘Yellow’ blocks represents this zone. Here the issue is ‘lukewarm’. It is called ‘Optimal Zone’ up to the next boundary line. 
  • Third level is called ‘Normal Appetite Zone’, here the block are little dark ‘Yellow’ represents ‘warm’ issues but still not ‘hot’. Up to this zone’s boundary line, most of us are ready to tolerate ‘issues’.
  • Fourth level goes up from ‘warm’ to ‘warmer’. It is a mixture of ‘Yellow’ and ‘Red’ blocks. This level can be considered as the ultimate tolerable limit of ‘issues’ in all situations.
  • Beyond this ultimate tolerable limit, the next zone is consisting of ‘Red’ blocks only. It depicts a high concern zone and a final decision about the ‘issue’ is to be taken without further delay. This zone is appropriately named as ‘Concern Zone’.

Finally, having equipped with the fundamental knowledge of problem/issue/risk management and the methods to apply it in our life problems or in our interpersonal relationship issues, it is expected that we will be able to handle our life and carrier in a more better way, without disturbing our mental tranquillity and improving our productivity to a considerable extent.