Crisis management steps can be described as the steps or activities that a business uses to counter act or respond in the face of a major crisis. Crisis management is a relatively younger area of management, but very crucial for the health and growth of businesses in today’s world. Crisis management starts well before disaster actually strikes. The prediction, planning and forecasting of a crisis and how the business will deal with falls under crisis management. Businesses and large organizations plan out in such a way that they make sure have an actual crisis management plan before crisis befalls their firm. From stabilizing the public image of the business, to making sure to face least decline in profits and business, while focusing on the public relations as well, are just a few of many things, which fall under the umbrella of crisis management. Other than this, a business must keep in mind how a certain crisis is going to affect the employers as well as the customers. (Bernstein Crisis Management, 2017)
Below are five key crisis management steps:
#1 Clear objectives
Nothing will fall into place, if you do not have a detailed and crystal-clear plan. For this, you need to have a very clear picture of what your business objectives are, and how certain crisis will affect these objectives. From there, you should then come up with the objectives of your crisis management plan. There is a lot of thought and prediction that goes into this particular step of crisis management. A lot of foresight is required.
Predicting what your company may fall upon is often not easy, especially if you do not have a very large company, or have been experiencing a smooth sailing for a long time now. These things often lull businesses into a fall sense of security which has devastating consequences at the time of crisis. So, to avoid this, plan out from the start, and plan carefully.
Be aware of the details of all people, parties, stakeholders, customers. employees and suppliers etc., who will be affected by this, in addition to how these said entities will be affected. Then lay down a plan for how to cover up the losses with each of these parties. Also, all these concerned parties must be kept in the loop. From there on, with all these clear objectives in mind, have a detailed plan in written form and back it up with all relevant documentation as well as legal actions.
Every action that has to be taken, relating to every area of your business, should be clearly detailed out in this plan. This plan should be accordingly distributed to everyone concerned and connected to the company. Furthermore, the plan should be modified and updated as per the business flow periodically. In addition, never forget the presence of financial and legal experts and their involvements whenever writing out a crisis management plan. (Allen, M. W., & Caillouet, R. H. 1994.)
#2 A dedicated team
One of the most common mistakes, which businesses often make is believing that all hands-on deck at the moment of crisis is the actual way to go. But this can be the recipe for an even bigger disaster. As far as crisis management strategies go, the most efficient way of dealing with a crisis is to have an entire team that is dedicated solely for this purpose. This team should comprise of senior executives, who have the sole responsibility of working on crisis management.
From the onset, they should start with the prediction and brainstorming on what kind of crisis the company may face. The planning, prediction, as well as action course should be decided by this team. It is imperative to be careful about the personnel that will be there in this team. It should be ideally headed by the CEO, and he or she should be advised by the senior members of the Public relation department, as well as the senior legal executives of the firm. Additional members may be the heads or supervisors of all the other major departments of the business (All About Crisis Management. n.d. Free Management Library).
Another great idea is to have specialists, that is subject specialist, on the team. Provide special training to people if you have to, and never keep crisis management on the back burner, waiting for the time of crisis. Rather, it should be ideally a weekly practice to discuss, update, and review any possible crisis in accordance with the business during that time, and the possible ways to prevent and handle it. If you believe that your business does not have enough expertise, or expert persons for this sort of work, then another great option is to choose a legal firm, or any agency that specializes in this sort of thing.
#3 Keep the communication flowing
This is one of the most critical aspects of crisis management. That is to have an open and well-oiled communication network. First step is to communicate all the potential risks and crisis to the concerned parties that would be the employers, the stakeholders, the public, the legal parties as well as the customers. The first and foremost thing to do is to appoint a well-trained and well-informed crisis spokesperson.
If there is a chance that a certain crisis will have an impact on the public as well as the customers, then there is bound to be media involvement. The job of the spokesperson would be to act as the voice of the firm, ready to assuage the general public as well as the media with all the questions and apprehensions. Another key element here is to be honest and transparent. While a crisis can’t be undone, negative publicity can be avoided by being open about the state of affairs. This should be handled delicately, and with a positive vibe (Condit, B.)When a crisis arise, deal it with honesty and transparency! Click To Tweet
Moreover, make sure that the workforce is always up to date with latest on goings, especially in the times of crisis. This prevents a frenzy amongst the employees as well as prevents the feelings of ill- will, and employees feel that they are well informed and a part of the company. This in turns prevents them from spreading ill rumors at the time of crisis. Make it a point to update all the concern parties early, as well as periodically, about every small improvement or bad turn. Make sure to have summary statements ready accordingly.
Make sure your legal spokesperson as well as the appointed crisis spokesperson are on the same page, and can deliver satisfactory, honest statements without giving away too much. Another thing to keep in mind is to use social media extensively to keep everything in a positive light, and to portray that you have nothing to hide.
#4 Prevention is better than cure
This is a finer aspect of crisis management missed by many. If you are on the right path to crisis management, then from the onset, you will have laid out clear objectives of your crisis management plan. With this, you will have predicted what kind of crisis your company may face. One major step that most companies don’t consider to be a part of crisis management is to actually prevent the situations that have been predicted as possible crisis. This means to have your work laid out for you. All the deadlines, finances, legal matters must be kept up to date and in line.
Sometimes, after some initial brainstorming, it is easy to see that some crisis can be avoided by simply changing the existing methodologies and operations. Evaluate your company’s policy, philosophies and strategies. Wherever there is danger of missing a deadline, let the stakeholders know well in advance. Always know how to appease the concerned parties, as well as have genuine reasons for any hiccups. Before a mountain arsis out of a mole hill, try to get everything in line timely.
More often than not, crisis arise due to ignorance of small, seemingly an important issue, which eventually add up to a huge crisis. Avoid this at all costs. A well-managed firm is less likely to run into a major crisis, than one that has sloppy management and organizational practices. Keep the HR well trained and up to date. Have dedicated team with the sole purpose to be on the lookout for a crisis. Most important of all, your PR team should be on top of their game. Any sloppiness or slight misstep from the PR on the time or crisis could lead to unimaginable disasters.More often than not, crisis arise due to ignorance of small, seemingly an important issue, which eventually add up to a huge crisis! Click To Tweet
#5 Anticipate it
This just doesn’t mean sitting around and thinking “I am ready for a crisis” or “I have a plan when disaster hits”. Anticipating crisis in real terms means to know that each and every one of your steps, or missteps, may be leading you to a potential crisis. Every hire, every fire, every office gossip, every employee who is unsatisfied, every unpaid holiday, every HR blunder as well as any shouting matches you may have had with your junior resource may have been the step to that crisis you are so desperate to avoid.
Before taking any step, think about its consequences. Even the slightest data error, technical, financial or legal, may be just the leap towards the crisis. Bad publicity, accusations, and any other negative behavior that is usually taken lightly are actually the building blocks of crisis. Another thing that is often overlooked during crisis management is your cyber security. Security breaches and hacks, and leaks are often the spark that starts the blaze of a crisis. Most companies that are not in the IT field think it is alright to not have a dedicated IT department. This is their first mistake. Have an IT wing, and more importantly, have an up to date IT and network security to keep all your confidential information as well as business exchanges safe (Koster, M. C., & Politis-Norton, H. 2004)
Remember that, a crisis that is not handled gracefully can obliterate decades of hard work and dedication in a matter of days, or even hours. Your company’s good name, it’s brand value, as well as its market value can hit rock bottom, or in fact, hit an irrecoverable low if crisis is not dealt with properly. If your company emerges victorious from a crisis, it raises the respect and value of your company even more. It shows the world that your firm has the necessary operations and processes when it comes to dealing with unpleasant situations.
With the crisis management plan, you must also have a plan of succession, which will define that what will happen or what must be done, if for some reason, you or any one of the senior executives involved in the crisis management team cannot perform their duties. There should be detail of the necessary steps that must be taken, and the person who will act in place of the person who cannot perform their duties. Be sure to do all this, and finalize your crisis management plan, when everything is running top notch. This ensures that you know the strength of your business, and the subsequent weaknesses that may lead to a crisis.
Keep everyone on board. Your lawyers, financiers, suppliers, bankers, insurance agents, customers, employers, everyone should be in the loop about everything at all times. Remember to also take feedback from all these mentioned parties as everyone will have different ideas on how to handle the crisis from the perspective of their jobs. Be thoroughly involved with the workforce, to know what makes them happy and what makes them unhappy. This way you will have bird’s eye view of all the possible solutions, from different perspectives.
Be prepared, and everyone that is connected to your business will thank you for it. Keep reviewing your work methods and business flow. Keep an eye out for the kind of publicity your business, or anyone connected to your company is getting. The first step in crisis management is constant vigilance, and this always goes a long way.
- The 10 Steps of Crisis Communications » Bernstein Crisis Management. 2017, April 27. Bernstein Crisis Management.
- All About Crisis Management. n.d. Free Management Library.
- Allen, M. W., & Caillouet, R. H. 1994. Legitimation endeavors: Impression management strategies used by an organization in crisis. Communication Monographs, 61(1): 44–62.
- Condit, B. n.d. 7 critical steps to crisis management. Inc.com. Inc.
- Koster, M. C., & Politis-Norton, H. 2004. Crisis Management Strategies. Drug Safety, 27(8): 603–608.