Crises often put businesses under a great deal of stress and scrutiny. The ongoing pressure from stakeholders, clients, and the media, can often make a difficult situation even harder to deal with.
Crisis management can be overwhelming, but with the right preparation, you can keep damage to a minimum.
Here are 4 essential steps for successfully managing a crisis.
1: Set Out Your Objectives & Plan Accordingly
The first step to crisis management is establishing a contingency plan. It's good practice to have your company objectives mapped out in advance, so you can predict how certain incidents and events will impact your business. From there, you should build up a plan to deal with potential crises. A crisis can come at any time, so start planning as soon as possible, and plan carefully.
It's important to stay aware of any party that could be negatively impacted by a crisis. Regardless of whether that's stakeholders, staff, or customers, you should know how certain situations may affect them. Plus, ensure you keep them in the loop and have all relevant contact information included as part of your plan. That way, you won't be desperately searching for it in the moment.
Your plan should set out what actions you intend to take within each area of your business, whom you need to contact, and the timeframes you'll need to achieve this. As a general rule of thumb, aim to update this plan on a bi-annual basis, or whenever something changes within your business.
2: Assemble Your Team & Delegate Roles
Dealing with a crisis is not a one-person job. It takes a well-trained and coordinated team to effectively tackle a potential incident. Your team will handle the responsibility of leadership, communication, management, and response to all aspects of a crisis.
Your team should be made up of a mix of staff members from different departments, with a shared pool of experience that can be applied to incidents that are likely to occur. This includes staff from finance, HR, legal, and anything else that might be relevant to your business. And delegate roles from the start, so every member of your team knows their position. This will prevent a disorganised team and also ensure that you have the right person in the right job.
A prompt response is essential in a crisis. By assembling your team in advance, you can ensure that your business can execute its response plan with ease – and be ready for any issues.
3: Ensure Consistent Communication
Crisis communication is one of the most important aspects of crisis management. It's how you maintain trust in your stakeholders, customers, and staff. So, be as open and honest in your communications as possible, to build up a trustworthy rapport across all channels.
Firstly, determine who's involved, what steps are being taken to remedy the situation, and when you expect it to be resolved. Next, gather responses for the press, stakeholders, and customers. Ensure your spokesperson is confident with the details and ready to answer questions when they arise.
You'll need to keep an eye on the situation and be prepared to respond on social media and other public channels when necessary. However, be wary of oversharing on these platforms, as one miscommunicated response can fuel the spread of misinformation.
4: Learn From It
The final step is simply learning from your mistakes. Ultimately, the aftermath of a crisis is your chance to discover what worked successfully and what wasn't as effective as you'd have liked. Take the opportunity to update your crisis management plan with any details, notes, or improvements that will help you and your team operate better in the future.
First, identify the root causes of the crisis, and how can you stop it happening again. Secondly, ask yourself, how could we respond more effectively in future? And was the plan executed as successfully as you thought?
Self-evaluation is an important part of continuous improvement and vital if you want to come out of a crisis stronger than before.
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