Attack to Taj 2008 – Analyzing the Staff Behaviour
What happened in Taj Mahal Hotel and in its vicinity in Mumbai in 2008 shocked the whole world. Things went bad, but in retrospect one can say that it could have been worse. Much talk has been circling around the subject of the acts of valour and courage of the Taj Mahal employees during the terrorist attack. Reasonable choices were made by the staff, the quests were properly instructed to wait patiently for the help that would arrive the next morning. As a result the Unilever banquet-party left the hotel unharmed. Why did the employees act how they acted? In this post I bring forth my own opinions about what happened.
The actions of the Taj employees during the attack were not prescribed in any manuals. They responded to the crisis with the proper self-coordination and managed to improvise in a very difficult situation. Although the appropriateness of the actions of the employees in the Banquet room cannot be questioned, it can be questioned whether the cause of these successful acts and decisions was the unusual hiring, training, and incentive systems of the Taj as hypothesised in article “The Ordinary Heroes Of the Taj”.
In my opinion the basic human nature and the use of logic and brainpower can account for the actions made by the staff of the hotel.
Due to the facts of the banquet room being a closed room with no exits apart from the main hallway and the room being on second floor, the people in the room were trapped as the terrorists entered the building. The logical solution was to wait quietly and hope nobody would come bursting through the doors. Even though the shooting must have stopped for a while at some point the people in the room were sure to realize that the situation was not over. If it was over, the rescuers would scour the building for survivors and find the people in the banquet-room. Thus the terrorists were still inside of the hotel, since the help did not arrive. Again, the logical thing to do would be to wait inside the room and not go to the terrorist-controlled areas outside the banquet-room. The wait paid off and the help eventually arrived
What comes to the persistent customer service attitude the personnel exhibited during the attack, one could just say that they were real professionals with excellent training and with a good team spirit. The familiar surroundings of the hotel and the old colleagues around kept the personnel calm enough to be able to still operate in a difficult situation as that. The obvious thing to do with the customers would be to keep them calm as well to prevent them from running off and alerting the terrorists. Hence the staff continued on their posts and in their mentalities as employees and managed to keep the customers from overreacting.
In my opinion one should not make over-reaching conclusions from the Taj incident. One should not go as far as to say that what happened was unique and a clear effect from the good practices in the Taj. I believe it was human nature coupled with people using their brains.