Crisis Management in Your Business

Five Top Tips for Crisis Management

At some stage of building your business, you may find yourself in a position where you need to know all about crisis management.

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to know how to use the strategies of crisis management? However, the reality is, that when times are difficult, it is important to understand the need and plan for crisis management.

John C. Maxwell is hugely experienced in leadership issues. He really knows how to use his leadership skills in difficult times. Especially so, when things in your business are not going well. It’s important to realize that you can’t escape crisis situations. It is impossible to avoid them. Yet you are able to learn how to lead people through those kinds of difficult situations. Difficult times are the moments when leadership is needed the most.

Responding in a time of crisis

Anne Mulcahy once said interesting words about crisis management, “When you have that window of opportunity called ‘crisis’, move as quickly as you can, get as much done as you can. There’s a momentum for change that’s very compelling”

You don’t have to be convinced that when you come across a crisis situation in your business, you must urgently pay attention to it. However, it pays to be prepared for the worst. The difficulty appears to be in knowing how to respond quickly to sudden adversity. The task of every good leader is to be an example of acting with confidence to try and overcome crises.

Defining your crisis in detail

The first piece of acting in crisis management is discovering and defining the real problem. It seems to be the most important aspect of crisis management as well. How can leaders decide what steps they should make if they don’t do the best possible recognition of the situation?

According to John C. Maxwell, it is very important for all the followers to see clearly and feel the presence of a leader in a time of crisis. Good and courageous leadership can give others not only the confidence that they can survive but also a sense of security they need in this very moment of struggle.

Keep your emotions in check

When you are put in a situation when in need of crisis management, it often turns out that emotions run high and circumstances appear overwhelming.

When your emotions are not under control, you tend to make the situation more complicated than it should be. The task of a great leader is to manage emotions. And, in the process lay out a crisis management plan as soon as possible without unnecessary delay. That’s what crisis management is about.

When confronting a rapidly changing situation in times of crisis, it is wise to take action one step at a time. Remember to concentrate on one step to resolve the problem and then focus on another. You should always have in mind to re-evaluate the given situation once certain actions have been done in the plan.

To get to know more about crisis management, try to remember that difficult problems seldom have simple solutions. Be always reasonable enough to put the needs of your people ahead of your personal comfort. No matter what kind of crisis you have to face.

Crisis Management in Your Business

Recent studies suggest the majority of organisations should expect to experience a value-eroding crisis at least once every five years.

It is an essential part of good governance for organisations to prepare proactively for what many say is inevitable. However, managing the response to a crisis is challenging and should not be underestimated. Based on practical experience of board-level crisis response, here are five key challenges crisis management business leaders and teams should consider in their preparations.

ONE: Staying Strategic

A key area successful business leaders and top teams consistently struggle to manage is the ‘strategic’ element of crisis response. The temptation is to dive into the detail, get operational and derive comfort from dealing with the familiar. There will be ‘fires at your feet’ which need fighting. But, at the same time, the executive team has a crucial role in watching the horizon. Whilst looking ahead and those around them planning and delivering on their decisions and direction.

This is where conceptual thinking models work well; simply derived approaches are designed to capture the core elements of the thinking that a strategic crisis team should be engaging in. Few senior executives know well, or in some cases have even read their organisation’s crisis plans. The key thing is to have a simple, well-structured key activity process to keep them on track. This is particularly important in the heat of the crisis arena.

TWO: Achieving Situational Awareness

Organisations are frequently overwhelmed by the complexity of managing the information that pours in during a crisis. In an army battle HQ, their aim is to get inside the response loop or decision cycle of the enemy. Likewise, for a company in crisis, the aim is to gain control of the situation by getting ahead in the decision/action cycle to achieve that control. Understanding the situation is critical and managing information effectively is the key to achieving this. It takes clear procedures that have been rehearsed to collect information from credible sources; collate and analyse it to change it from unstructured data into something that is of use. And then distribute it to those who need it.

THREE: Integrating Communications

Quality information also supports good communication. Too often the message may not reflect reality demonstrating a disconnection of crisis managers and communicators. The crisis communications team and the crisis management team should be coordinated centrally to successfully drive well-prepared plans on both sides. This should support and drive the integration of the facts with the messages to ensure they are relevant and timely.

FOUR: Listening Leaders

A crisis centre is often a noisy, tense and scratchy location where no one is actually listening to anyone else, let alone listening to the noise beyond, from the staff, the public and the media at large.

The greatest skill any crisis leader can have is listening. Hearing what is being said, what is behind the words; picking up on nuance and trend; hearing the silence, cacophony or crescendo. Too often crisis teams fail to really listen to what is around them and miss the mood. They fail to recognise the swing of views or simply the scale of noise and this impacts the efficacy of their response.

FIVE: Rehearse? Rehearse! Rehearse.

Imagine an untrained Premier League team! Survival would be very brief and sympathy scant. Staying at the top of your game needs practice and the same applies to crisis management. In a crisis, the environment is uncertain, complex, pressured and risky. Why would any team not want to rehearse, particularly when the stakes are so high?

Crisis management exercises need to be credible and as realistic as possible. It needs to simulate the complexity of the crisis arena through speed, pressure, uncertainty and survival challenging decisions. As the mantra goes, “Train hard, fight easy”. Crisis experience is essential to success, so rehearse and rehearse again.

Evidence from analysis of past incidents demonstrates that well-prepared companies bounced back stronger and faster compared to those who are unprepared, and whose value diminished rapidly and for a prolonged period.