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We’re constantly reading in the media about organisations going through a crisis. The crisis can take the form of a natural disaster, sabotage, product failure, fraud, or civil disruption. There are many, many other examples of organisations going through crises. It’s important that your organisation has a crisis management plan so that, should a disastrous event happen, you can swing into action immediately and take effective, assertive action.
Crisis management is important because it can help your organisation prevent, prepare for, and respond to events that can harm people, property, operations, reputation, or the bottom line. Crises can have drastic consequences on your business and your brand and create unrest and fear among your team members. Effective crisis management requires decision-making, coordination, and resources. Crisis management helps you and your management team to devise strategies, feel the early signs, warn employees, take precautions, and review physical and property security.
When a crisis hits, we are often paralysed by the enormity of what has happened. A crisis management plan helps us to break this state of shock and helps us to do the right thing quickly. Effective crisis management protects your organisation’s reputation, ensures the well-being of the team, and speeds recovery from damage. What follows in the rest of this article is not a comprehensive approach to crisis management; it has many more detailed requirements. But it will set you on the path to creating an effective crisis management plan.
What is Crisis Management?
Crisis management is the process of preparing for, responding to, and recovering from a crisis or emergency situation. It involves identifying potential risks, developing strategies to mitigate them, and establishing protocols for communication and decision-making during a crisis. The goal of crisis management is to minimise the impact of a crisis on an organisation or community and to facilitate a quick and effective response.
How to Prepare Your Organisation to Deal with a Crisis
Your organisation can prepare for a crisis by taking several practical steps, including:
- Conduct a risk assessment to identify potential crises and their likelihood and impact.
- Develop a crisis management plan outlining roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, and procedures for responding to different crises.
- Train employees on the crisis management plan and conduct regular drills to ensure everyone knows what to do in an emergency. Make sure your first aiders are trained, and that you have an efficient evacuation plan. You may want to invest in some media training as well.
- Establish a crisis communication plan that includes messaging templates, contact lists, media statements and social media monitoring. Effective use of social media is a powerful way of immediately sharing information.
- Build relationships with key stakeholders, such as government agencies, fire and emergency services, media outlets, and community leaders, to facilitate a coordinated response.
- Maintain up-to-date contact information for emergency agencies, employees, customers, and suppliers to ensure timely communication during a crisis. Make sure your access and security personnel, reception and switchboard teams are fully in the crisis management picture.
By taking these steps, your organisation can be better prepared to respond to a crisis and minimise its impact.
What to do When a Crisis Happens
When that awful crisis happens, you want to be able to immediately spring into action. Here are several immediate actions your organisation should undertake, including:
- Take immediate action to ensure that people and property are safe.
- Activate the crisis management team and follow the procedures in the crisis management plan.
- Assess the unfolding situation and gather as much information as possible to understand the scope and severity of the crisis.
- Communicate with employees, customers, and other stakeholders to provide updates and instructions as needed.
- Continue to take all necessary safety measures to protect people and property.
- Coordinate with emergency responders and other external resources as needed. Have designated marshals meet them in the street and conduct them onto the premises, it will save precious time.
- Monitor the situation closely and continually and adjust your response as necessary based on new information and the unfolding situation.
- As the leader, adopt the mask of command. People are looking to you to show that you are in control and that everybody will be all right. “Everything is going to be OK!” You have to reassure your team.
By taking these immediate actions, your organisation can mitigate the impact of the crisis and begin the recovery process.
Communication in a Crisis
What communication is required in a crisis? Effective communication is critical during a crisis. You should communicate the following information during a crisis:
- What happened: Provide a clear and concise description of the crisis, including the cause, location, and impact. Use your prepared communication templates.
- What is being done: Explain the actions being taken to address the crisis, including any safety measures or emergency response efforts. Don’t hide important details and don’t blame. Stick to the facts of what happened and what is happening.
- What people should do: Provide clear instructions to employees, customers, and other stakeholders on what they should do to stay safe and minimise the impact of the crisis.
- When to expect updates: Establish a regular schedule for providing updates on the situation and stick to it.
- Whom to contact for more information: Provide contact information for a designated spokesperson or crisis management team member who can answer questions and provide additional information. Your crisis plan will have the details of this.
It’s important to communicate in a timely and transparent manner during a crisis to build trust and credibility with stakeholders and to ensure that everyone has the information they need to stay safe and informed.
What Action is Required After a Crisis Has Taken Place?
After a crisis has taken place, you should initiate several actions, including:
- Conduct a post-crisis review to evaluate the effectiveness of the response, and your crisis management plan and identify areas for improvement.
- Communicate with stakeholders to provide updates on the situation and any ongoing recovery efforts.
- Implement any necessary changes to policies, procedures, or infrastructure to prevent similar crises from occurring in the future.
- Provide support, counselling, and resources to employees and other affected parties to help them recover from the crisis.
- Monitor the situation over time to ensure that the organisation is fully recovered and that any lingering issues are addressed.
By taking these actions and setting these plans in place, your organisation will effectively manage any crisis and emerge stronger and more resilient.