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Ways to Make Decisions in a Crisis

Ways to Make Decisions in a Crisis

Ways to Make Decisions in a Crisis

When faced with uncertain situations like the current global health crisis, humans’ reactions are sometimes affected by impulsive, irrational, and emotional thoughts. During the pandemic, leaders were forced to take difficult decisions such as laying off employees, cutting pay and cancelling projects while attempting to operate normally. Considering the social, economic, and environmental impacts that crisis has on organisations, it is evident that there will be more in the future. Companies that are currently operating successfully past the pandemic were those that focused on implementing thorough and well-structured crisis management.

Crisis management involves maintaining a focus on brand purpose and reminding employees to continue working for the same core mission of the organisation. During the pandemic, the fear index increased as volatility and uncertainty about the future became more prominent. As a result, companies had to develop a plan internally and externally to adjust to the situation since demands from consumers changed abruptly. In the Pharma industry, laboratories delt with shortages of certain medications such as investigational treatments with 8 times higher use in hospitals.

In today’s fast-changing world, every employee needs to learn how to make smart decisions, so the company should develop a culture around decision-making and give responsibility to their employees. Everyday challenges will require an agile mindset from all parties. Leaders need to be well-informed by having the right team and the right metrics to continue operating. They should have an open communication style and be leading by example to pass down their skills to his/her team.

Psychology explains that the brain focuses on two tracks when deciding: the gut reaction and future impacts.

Intuition is the gut reaction that we have when something happens, and it is a decision based on emotion and listening to one’s body. Although, it is natural for people to listen to their bodies, sometimes this instinct can be affected by mental short cuts and biases. The second track is focused on thinking about the decision thoroughly and evaluating the effects whether positive or negative. For example, a leader might compare the costs and benefits of a singular decision. By making well-thought decisions even during a crisis, leaders can mitigate the risk of negative impacts in the future. Risk management goas hand in hand with crisis management and includes planning for disaster recovery as well as ensuring the availability of systems and services before deciding.

Brainstorming and analysing the options will allow you to make a fair judgment on the best solution. Once research has been done and employees feel more confident, they should take the decision, and build a plan of action to later evaluate the results. Lastly, learn from the decision and its consequences to be more informed and aware for future similar situations.

In conclusion, it is necessary to consider the situation and thoroughly think through the solutions to make an appropriate decision during a crisis. There are different ways to make the process smoother, including creating an organisational culture of trust and thinking about the long-term effects of the choice. By focusing teams on crisis management, firms will be ready for the future social, health or economic circumstances.


  1. Follow These 7 Steps for Good Decision Making in a Crisis, April 2020, Forbes.
  2. 8 Tips to Make Decisions in a Crisis, May 2020, Welcome to the Jungle.
  3. The Art of Making Tough Decisions in a Crisis, April 2020,  Forbes.