Crisis Management is a must today

Today, due to Covid-19, the whole world is facing a new type of crisis affecting companies in a significant way on a human, social and economic level.

What is defined as crises are sudden and unexpected situations of considerable disruption, to which organisations are on the front line and must respond quickly as they affect business, stakeholders, employees, clients/customers and revenue. During a crisis, the usual management systems are saturated, the organisation’s priority objectives and even its survival are jeopardised. Everything needs to be rethought. Therefore, the organisation’s ability to demonstrate resilience requires the implementation of crisis management and business continuity systems.

Crisis management is composed of three different steps allowing the company to identify, assess, understand and cope with an unexpected situation.

Pre-crisis is the phase where a company should work to prevent/prepare for any kind of internal or external crisis. This part of crisis management is usually part of the company’s risk management programme. The critical question that should be answered is: “How to handle the crisis?”. To resolve it, one should create a Crisis Management Plan that includes a communication plan. According to Barton’s (2001) Crisis in Organizations II, four best practices should be followed: having a crisis management plan, having a designate crisis management team that is properly trained, conducting exercises and having a ready-to-use communication plan.

The second phase is the Crisis Execution Plan or Crisis Response. Here the safety of the public and company is prioritised. Crisis management communication is released to everyone, from stakeholders to employees and clients. The goal is to contain the crisis by being quick, accurate and consistent. Leaders and employees act with “one voice” to deliver a clear consistent message to ensure the key audience is kept informed and the organisation survives. Honesty, transparency and openness should be at the heart of this communication.

During this step, employees should also be informed of every action that will be taken to ensure business continuity. Empathy is key during this phase as it is one of the necessary skills to implement the contingency plan.

This is the phase where all of us are now due to the Covid-19 sanitary crisis. It is crucial for all of us to focus on our internal assets right now i.e. our employees. We need to make sure all of them are on the right state of mind and this means reassuring them regarding their fears: employment, revenue, management. Corporate culture is going to be essential here as it will help leaders ensure motivation and engagement.

Once this phase is over, the Postcrisis one starts, and it is all about recovery. It is when the company returns to business as usual therefore, information needs to be communicated to all involved parties on how it will be achieved. The level of required information depends on the communication delivered during phase 2, but also on the length of time it will take to complete the recovery plan.

Clearly at this stage, the company should have learned a lot about its crisis management plan and should therefore analyse its effectiveness and make the necessary adjustments for the next ones.

All companies from any sector can experience an internal or external crisis. Being prepared and having a ready-to-implement Crisis Management Programme remain the sole way to face it effectively and emerge stronger form it.

So now let us reflect on what you as a company or a leader have been doing to reassure your employees, keep them motivated and engaged in an emotionally charged environment. How did you or are you addressing critical issues internally and externally?

STRAMMER works with Client Partners specialised in Strategic Advice and specifically on coaching. All of them are former Executive from the Healthcare industry who have had to face and deal with major crises. We aim to support you in these extremely emotional and difficult time. Let us help you be the leaders we know you are!

References:

  1. Crisis Mangement and Communication, Octobre 30th 2007, Institute For Public Relations