How to Engage Senior Management in Crisis Planning

Crisis management plans shouldn't be put on hold until an emergency occurs – in fact, the ability to deal with an incident is greatly diminished without adequate preparation. And while many businesses are increasingly proactive in devising strategies for dealing with an emergency, it's easy for employee interest to not extend company-wide.

Employee engagement is essential for driving a culture of communication and efficiency, and it's especially important when it comes to executing a crisis plan. By utilising an emergency preparedness system that encompasses all aspects of your business, you can be prepared for any potential emergency. Additionally, you can also ensure that plans are accessible and easily understood by all. 

But sometimes crisis management strategies stop there.

Many organisations fail to extend their crisis management procedures company-wide, with strategies not being communicated effectively across the business, or becoming compartmentalised to their respective departments and not reaching all levels of staff.

More alarmingly, senior management are often key stakeholders in operations, performance, and engagement within a business. Their potential impact upon the effectiveness of crisis management procedures should not be underestimated, as they often have a level of authority that makes communication more impactful.

So, what are some common reasons senior management aren’t engaged in the crisis management process?

  • Having busy schedules and no time!
  • A (perceived) lack of expertise
  • Delegation of responsibility
  • Overestimation of current preparedness
  • Overconfidence in handling a crisis
  • Lack of belief in current procedures

How prepared are you to handle an incident? Take our Incident Preparedness Test  in just 3 minutes.

How to get Senior Management on Board 

There is no doubt that numerous business practices and activities compete for a rank of importance with senior staff, but a few actions can be taken to encourage higher involvement in planning for a crisis. So, what can you do?

Explain the Need For Their Involvement 

Successful leaders communicate effectively and lead by example. Your crisis management strategy might be developed at a high level, but departments may plan for their own internal incidents and crisis management plans might not extend across the business effectively.

Senior management is a key seat-holder in effective decision making, overall employee engagement, and devising successful strategies. The c-suite is often more effective at communicating a message across a business because its members have more established authority.

Due to this, they should be responsible for publicising the importance of crisis management software company-wide. Let your senior management team know that their involvement in the planning and promoting of your crisis management system across the business would have an overwhelmingly positive effect on the execution of crisis management if anything were to happen, as it would help spread the message company-wide.

Suggest a Robust System

For many businesses, it doesn’t make sense to have just one plan, especially with the potential for vastly different incidents to occur. Many emergencies will have varying levels of complexity that can't be fixed with just one approach. 

Engage your senior management by emphasising the importance of a robust plan, and a robust system to match. Tackling crisis management can happen more efficiently with a system that streamlines your processes through one centralised system, allowing you to deal with emergencies regardless of their complexity. Choosing the right system is key.

Additionally, knowing you have the right systems and processes in place to support contingency planning and incident handling will help your stakeholders feel more confident in communicating and supporting your efforts.

Emphasise your Investors and Stakeholders

Your senior management team probably don’t want to ignore the potential effects of a crisis. After all, one study showed that, 12 months after a crisis, the share price of well-prepared companies was, on average, 22% ahead of poorly prepared companies. Additionally, poor crisis management can cause detrimental effects on your company’s reputation and credibility.

Let your senior management team know that if they communicate and contribute to your crisis management plans effectively, your business will be able to respond better to a crisis, lessening the impact it may have on investor and stakeholder opinion.  

Recognise the Changing Crisis Management Landscape

Crisis management is no longer a reactive response to one singular event. Much like a fire drill, crisis management traditionally was a set list of procedures to take in case of x, y, or z. More recently, crisis management has developed far beyond that. Innovative platforms are now proactive at anticipating and detecting threats long before they can materialise.

The sophistication of crisis management systems now extends to cover every scenario and can handle all business processes that may be part of that. From incident logs, task management, media enquiries and replies, smart contacts, incident maps, and much more – systems are now equipped to handle every procedure. Your senior management team needs to buy into more advanced systems and communicate their importance across your business.

One effective way of helping buy-in is by simply testing how prepared you currently are to handle a crisis. Our incident preparedness test evaluates your business in four key areas: analysis, awareness, preparedness, and improvement. If you'd like to see for yourself, start the free test now.

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By Andrew Carvell

Andy is the Managing Director of One Voice’s international business, based in London and has worked with incident and crisis management solutions since 2010. He has a particular focus on the aviation and energy sectors and works closely with One Voice’s partner Control Risks to broaden the service offering of both parties. Andy has a degree in law from the University of Nottingham and outside of work, enjoys rugby, golf and outdoor pursuits.

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