June 5, 2014
Crisis Management: How to handle a crisis and come out on top
Crisis Management: How to handle a crisis and come out on top

The way any organization handles a crisis (it doesn’t really matter what size) can tell a lot about the team and the way things are run on a day to day basis. Crisis situations are a turning point and you either end up facing the right direction or the wrong way where you walk all of your hard work developing your brand off a cliff.

While tempting, your first reaction to a crisis shouldn’t be blinding panic. And you shouldn’t be panicked reading about the potential of a crisis either.

Take a deep breath and take a look at a few things you need to know about approaching any crisis situation in your organization.

Anticipation is your greatest ally

The first question you should ask yourself is “do we have a crisis plan of action?” If the answer is yes, then you are in good shape. A good crisis plan will outline processes to follow once crises hit. This means a faster reaction and a faster fix. If you don’t have a crisis plan in place, I recommend sitting down with your team to create one. Play devil’s advocate and try to anticipate what types of situations could arise.

Complacency is your greatest foe

Unfortunately, if you ignore the problem, it won’t just go away. This can actually cause irreparable harm to your reputation.

It all comes down to the details

It is important that your first step in crisis management should be to assess the situation in its entirety. You should never act before you have all of the details. Your messaging is better crafted once you know what is going on so there are no surprises.

Communication is the most important factor

In any crisis situation, there are a number of stakeholders who will be affected by what you are going through. Identify who your stakeholders are in the given crisis and make sure you establish channels of communication. Ensure that communication is two-ways. It is important to set up listening channels to find out how your stakeholders are reacting.

Prepare your spokespeople with the right messaging and Q&A docs so you establish consistent positioning across the board. You should never “go dark” in any crisis situation as this would have the same effect as doing nothing.

Don’t take it personally

At any point in any manager or executive’s career they will inevitably run into a crisis situation, whether small or catastrophic. Take a deep breath and look at the bigger picture.

Debriefing sets you up for the future

Many people forget to do this with the team, and it is as important as dealing with the crisis itself. Sit down with your team and have a look at what went well, and what you would do differently next time. Let out the tension, and celebrate your wins.

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