crisis communication leadership

Crisis Leadership: Avoiding Communication Breakdown


No organization is immune from disruptions. When they occur, there are usually financial and reputation risks, no matter if the organization is a multinational corporation or small business. Effective communications is one of the keys to crisis leadership.

Communication Challenges

A simple power outage can cripple operations. A computer virus can cause serious damage to systems and data. A key employee being in poor health could result in critical information not being available. Economic downturn or employee strikes can shut down production. Weather threats can affect operations in a matter of seconds.

There are a myriad of other potential causes, depending on industry, location and other factors.

Communication is a critical factor in nearly every crisis situation. Informing everyone who could potentially be affected is the first order of business. This can be a problem if there are power outages or computer breakdowns. You must have an alternate plan for communication during such situations.

Always Have a Backup Plan

Even if your business has a plan in place to operate even when disruptions occur, the fact is that other businesses that you rely on may not have these types of systems in place. For that reason, you must have a plan in place to communicate both internally and externally via nontraditional methods.

A well prepared crisis communication plan will include methods of communication ranging from voice and SMS to Facebook; and in the event of total systems failure, personal verbal communication.

Consistent Communication

It is essential that all parties involved receive clear concise communication regarding the business disruption, including safety information, a tentative schedule for resuming normal business, and the events that should occur or tasks that should be accomplished in the meantime.

Any crisis management plan that is successful will spend much effort in the area of crisis communication. It is a grave mistake to eliminate any stakeholders completely from the communications loop as it creates animosity, and those affected by the business disruption will be much more cooperative and understanding if they are kept informed.

The bottom line is that no organization can avoid every possible crisis. To minimize impact, plan ahead for your crisis response, and when the inevitable trouble strikes keeps the communication flowing. Your organization will be stronger, and employees, stakeholders, and your community will thank you.

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