Successful crisis managers move their company through the challenges of a crisis and leave the company to success. What you don’t see is the planning that went on behind the scenes to develop that crisis strategy.
As with any company, make sure you have a plan in place before you need to work through a crisis.
Assemble the Team
One of the first steps in crisis management is identifying the available resources. This includes people, facilities, and tools. Make a list of all of the individuals in the company. Determine who can be used as part of your strategy implementation. For example, your management team must be prepared to present the situation clearly to team members.
Buildings and software applications are part of your team. You can use buildings to back up data or serve as gathering areas or meeting sites. Understand how technology, such as investor relations tools, helps disseminate information.
Write down all potential risks for your business. Most of your risks fall under the following categories:
- Internal: Situations that happen within your facility, like a chemical leak, fire, or information leak.
- External: Events that occur in the environment that impact the company’s ability to perform, such as a local tragedy, international unrest, or competitive interference.
- Governmental: Regulations or situations implemented by government officials, like clinical trial regulations, tax hikes, or zoning laws.
- Weather: The impact caused by weather events near facilities, such as tornadoes, flooding, or hurricanes.
Once you have identified the potential issues your company may experience, develop crisis management plans for each item. These should be detailed instructions that cover all tasks, roles, and responsibilities for each situation. Be sure to identify the primary individuals involved in the resolution.
Management and team members need to know that you have full control of the situation. It may be more cost-effective to contract with a crisis management organization. Teams from these companies are experienced in crisis management and can save time. They also know the types of scenarios your organization may experience.
Develop a crisis management organizational chart. Write down the people involved in resolving the potential crisis. Be sure they understand their roles and responsibilities. It is important to note that in an emergency, individuals are often asked to take on roles outside of their job description. Know your team member’s talents. Make sure they understand how to respond to a crisis.
Practice makes crisis management perfect. Establish training exercises to teach everyone how to handle an emergency. Start by walking through each step of the resolution process in a meeting room. It is not necessary to operate real-time mock drills in the beginning. Take the time to make sure it looks logical on paper. Then, find a way to run simulations. These real-time practice scenarios help everyone know what to expect. It can also help you identify potential issues that were not considered in the board room.
Your crisis management plan is a living document. Review policies and procedures annually to make sure that the plans are still feasible. Be prepared to modify your plan if there is a change to the competitive environment.
In a crisis, people experience the flight-or-fight response. Everyone reacts to the situation based on their personality and experience. Frequent and reliable communication puts individuals at ease.
Make sure messages are short and direct. This is not the time to release lengthy descriptions of the situation. In a crisis, people remember a small percentage of the information. Stick to the basic facts and the actions your organization is taking. You will perform a final analysis after the crisis has been mitigated.
Consumers want to know that the companies they support are good stewards. They want the organizations to take responsibility where it is possible. While insurance and legal claims may limit what company representatives can say, be prepared to take responsibility for the situation.
Action is better than procrastination. Make sure your team is moving forward if they see signs of a situation developing. Avoid having the media or team members accuse you of not being prepared.
Crisis management is critical to the success of every organization. Make the time to develop a plan. Investing your time and energy into these strategies will help your business survive a crisis.