Crisis situations are unavoidable and have the potential to create irreparable damage to the reputation of the corporation. A crisis can affect the employees, the shareholders and the consumers as well. The panic and uncertainty associated with a crisis can cause more damage and chaos than the actual crisis itself. Here is how you can handle a crisis like a pro, instead of running around like a headless chicken!
1. 360 assessment
Before coming up with any solution for a crisis, it is important to do an all round assessment of the situation. Understand the situation, the players and the landscape in which you are operating to develop an effective strategy. Take a step back to assess which areas of work have been affected, consider what you know and gather information on the rest. A complete 360 degree assessment will let you be prepared for the worst case scenario and not be blind sided by any new problems.
2. Keep Calm and Carry On
While navigating through difficult situations even two simple words can make matters worse. Panic will only add to the chaos and chaos is not the solution. So, instead of adding fuel to the fire, keep calm, breathe and try to stay above the water. This will allow you to take in more information, assess it faster and create an appropriate response. Put the problem in a broader context and trace it back to the roots. Generally, problems arise out of small missteps or miscommunication. Find the root of the problem and unravel the issue from there.
3. Engage and Communicate
Once you have a handle on the problem itself, engage the other employees and all key stakeholders. Engaging the employees and everyone involved will make the decision making process and the internal communication far more effective. Engage in open and transparent communication with all levels of the employees but understand how best to tell them what they need to know and when they need to know it. While two heads are definitely better than one, too many cooks will also spoil the broth.
Many times, during a crisis, the first instinct can be to ignore the problem on the whole and do nothing. Not reacting will only escalate the issue at hand, making a mountain out of what is possibly a molehill. Be proactive in your approach to any issue. Contain the problem and eradicate it quickly with a fast but well thought out response. Objective assessment and planning leads to a calm mindset and self confidence and then it’s all about the execution. But it is important to acknowledge the problem from the beginning itself and not turn a blind eye.
5. Ethical Business Practice
When the company is facing a crisis situation, ethics might be the last thing on your mind. Amid the pressure to put the issue to rest, ethics tend to take a back seat. It is during such times that remaining true to ethical business practices is of utmost importance. Short cuts and the easy way out have a tendency to come back and can harm the company later. Although this is easier said than done, make sure that all the team members are comfortable with the decisions being made and with the level of rigor with which you are conducting the investigation. Be true to your morals, ethical responsibilities, employees, consumers, stakeholders and yourself.
Crisis situations are like mountains during the monsoon season. Small missteps can lead to a landslide. Never underestimate any situation, your customers or the media. Crisis situations can be handled neatly and effectively if you know what needs to be done.