It is important to prepare for any eventuality that could lead to a crisis for your business. This could come about due to internal issues (such as when you lose a mar, a series of resignations, or losing an important client) or an external factor (such as natural disasters, economic crises, transport strikes, or shortages of raw materials).
Regardless of how the crisis comes about, the consequences could be devastating for your business or jeopardize your future. To prevent these types of situations and to manage a crisis effectively, it is important to react as fast as you can and to take the necessary measures to extract your company from turmoil. There are no miracle solutions when it comes to how to deal with a crisis, but there are a few steps you can take to come up with a practical crisis-management plan.
1. Identify Any Risks
Effective crisis management begins with anticipating risks that your company might face. Gather representatives from each department for brainstorming sessions to come up with a comprehensive list of potential risks. This could range from computer crashes to natural disasters, including defective products, work accidents, or cyber-attacks.
The next step involves analyzing each risk to decide on the likelihood of it occurring and how it would impact your organization. Then assign each risk with a ranking. With this type of in-depth analysis, it becomes easier to work out which of the risks you can avoid by changing your current practices and changing up work processes. For example, you might be able to lower the risks associated with a cyber attack by purchasing effective antivirus software or providing regular training sessions on cyber-related security to your IT employees.
2. Define Your Action Plan
Once you have successfully identified all the potential risks, it becomes necessary to define the material and human resources that need to be put into place to effectively respond to each type of crisis situation. Crisis management plans take into account every possible scenario and will also include operational responses. This could include BCP (Business Continuity Planning), evacuation plans, Business Recovery Plans, and more.
It is vital to prepare well and to have response plans in place before the crisis can occur. Why? Since it is very likely that you would react differently (less efficiently) when your business is thrown into a “real crisis situation”.
It is also important to update and revise your crisis plan regularly since risks are also likely to change. You should also test it out to ensure that it is effective.
3. Set Up A Crisis Unit
The primary space for your crisis management plan involves an effective crisis unit. This is a space where the organization for crisis management is centralized, a strategy for mass notification system is implemented and response plans are effectively piloted.
Your crisis unit should include employees from your company and external experts that have experience in specific events relating to critical or sensitive situations:
- Primary decision-makers of your company (senior managers, service managers, and managers)
- External or internal experts with experience relating to the nature of specific types of crisis
- Public relations and communication specialists
- Insurers, lawyers, or legal advisors
It is in this crisis unit that decisions will be made on how to deal with crisis events and ways to protect the organization, its reputation, and its business.
4. Nominate And Train A Spokesperson
When faced with a crisis, it’s important to coordinate all corporate communications carefully to preserve the reputation and image of the company.
There are two primary communication types when facing a crisis:
- Communication that is aimed at managing the crisis or lowering the impact that it has on day-to-day business operations (by alerting the public and/or customers, coordinating operations, and sending instructions to the staff members).
- Communication that is focused on preventing scandals or rumors and safeguarding the reputation and image of the business.
You should nominate one of your staff members to become an official spokesperson should your company ever face a crisis situation. They (if you have chosen more than one) will be the only party that is authorized to speak or send out notifications on behalf of the company. They should be viewed as the official source for any information on the actions and position of the company.
The spokesperson should be selected with care and trained on how to communicate through the different communication channels.
5. Define The Transmitted Messages
During times of crisis, your business will need to address different audiences such as the public, suppliers, partners, clients, employees, etc. The messages will probably vary according to an intended target, and also the media that is chosen to disseminate this information (for example the press, social media, the website of the business, etc.) It is important that your core message is kept clear, simple, and easy to understand by everyone. Avoid denying that there is a problem and try to be transparent about the situation.
The first message is usually in the form of an alert message. From here you will need to explain how the situation is evolving. To stop the messages from being impacted by pressure and stress during the critical situation, make sure you develop these messages by keeping a very close watch on the disaster scenario you identified in the initial step.
6. Provide Enough Space For Crisis Management
If a crisis ever does occur, you need to respond by implementing the actions you have already prepared for beforehand. Have you detected any abnormal situations or problems? Assess the threat level, and according to this launch your crisis unit. From here send out your alerts, and get to work immediately on your response plan.
7. Remain Positive
Crisis situations really test the strength of a company. However, when managed well, it does have the potential to create innovative opportunities in the way of forcing the business to come up with creative and innovative ways to move forward and bounce back. Internally, crisis situations can pave the way to strengthen a sense of belonging for your employees and fortify team cohesion. Externally, it could result in an occasion that displays the reactivity, resilience, and strength of your company.