How would you handle a disruption to your business, school, or church that seriously impacted your ability to conduct business? Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Common crises are the untimely death of a leader or significant team member, scandals, threats, harassment, or malicious rumors. Got your attention?
In the time of crisis, you must not panic, in fact, you should be prepared for any crisis or disaster. You want to make sure that you to provide for the safety and security of your employees, customers and the general public. When the crisis appears, your goal should be to stimulate the appropriate action, not to inject fear.
The key to handling a crisis is to prepare a crisis management plan before a crisis takes place. The crisis plan should be designed to anticipate what could happen and what your response would be to the crisis. You must create a detailed plan that is organized, effective and uniform for both the internal and external publics, and it must be smoothly implemented to mitigate any threat to life, property, and your reputation.
First, start by examining your organization with a magnifying glass and determine your vulnerabilities. Ask yourself critical questions. What are potential threats? What would you do if those threats came to fruition? How would you handle the vulnerability? What would you say to your employees, and what would you say to your external public? How would you react and respond to media attention?
The best crisis planning involves an organized communication channel to convey critical information to your employees, customers, vendors, and others who have a vested interest. You must quickly communicate key messages of care, concern, and commitment. While focusing on these audiences, do not forget the media. Besides, if the crisis impacts people and the company’s reputation, the media will be on your doorsteps quicker than a blink of an eye.
You must be prepared. If you do not tell your story, they will, and you take the risk of the media reporting incorrect details of the situation. A good practice is to identify someone within the organization to act as the liaison between the company and the media. There should also be a plan in place for business as usual or what we call a business continuity plan. Once you have weathered the crisis, you must operate the business without little disruption.
That’s all for today’s teachable moment. The next article will focus on specific types of crises. Remember, it is better to have a plan than to have no plan at all because your crisis is just around the corner.