In a crisis situation, people who are not trained tend to panic, which makes an already chaotic situation worse. It’s important to have a prepared crisis management team and procedures in place before an incident occurs. Some of the keys to proper crisis management:
- Calm, compassionate leadership
- Clear direction
- Precise, quick, and honest communication
- Immediate action when necessary
- Well-defined and thoroughly practiced plans
Proper crisis planning will free you from the confusion and chaos that so often accompanies breaking crises, enabling you to work on the critical issues at hand.
Accept that crises will occur
One of the first steps in crisis preparation is discussing the reality that bad things will happen. This may seem silly, but people tend to think that bad things happen only to other people. If your organization’s leadership does not thoroughly discuss possible crises and the best manner in which to handle them, they will find themselves in the midst of a crisis looking for direction and guidance when they should be the ones providing it.
Crisis preparation basics
Who will be in charge? This is the first order of business. There usually should be one person in charge and one assistant who works closely with them and could take over in case of an emergency. While this person should not be expected to do everything, they should manage and oversee the responsibilities delegated to others. This person should also be involved in developing a written policy of activities and events that should happen in case of a crisis. The policy must be professionally written, reviewed and agreed upon by all who are in authority or involved in policy development. Crisis communication and corporate reputation management. These are the next issues to address, and they go hand-in-hand. You need methods of communication to provide alerts, directions and necessary information, both internally and externally. Those methods must be selected, implemented and tested before they’re ever needed. Who will represent your organization to the public? Often, this is the CEO or another high ranking executive. Whoever you choose, make sure they are media-savvy, comfortable in front of a camera, and available when the media needs them. A crisis is never pleasant, no matter what your role. However, it is a lot less stressful to make these decisions in a calm, logical manner before the event ever happens. Don’t let yourself be forced to make these decisions under pressure. To protect the reputation of your organization, make crisis preparedness a project that you tackle today.
For more information on crisis preparedness, read the white paper “Crisis Preparedness Ins and Outs“.
Image credit: iStockPhoto