“Prepare an umbrella before the rain” is a proverb used to perfectly describe the importance of having a well-documented crisis management plan to an organisation.
Have you ever thought about how would your organisation continue to function one day if, for instance, your office is burnt down “touch wood” or one of organisation’s very key employee struck a jackpot and resigned within 24 hours, how would the business continue to operate?
A crisis can strike any organisation at any time, therefore advance planning is crucial to ensure the survival of an organisation.
To be prepared for a crisis, the following are some of the critical steps that we all need to think of:
- Crisis Management Plan – Every crisis management starts with a plan with clear objectives set in place, i.e. to protect any individual (employee or public) who may be endangered by the crisis, to safeguard the vital data and records for business continuity, to restore and ensure open communication during crisis etc. This written plan should include clear actions steps that must be taken in the event of a crisis.
- Identify a spokesperson – Should a crisis attracts media attention, to ensure that the company shows professionalism in delivering a clear consistent message, a spokesperson needs to be identified so as to answer media questions and participate in interviews. All employees need to be mindful so as to avoid giving any public statement(s) during a crisis and leave all the public statement responses to the spokesperson.
- Be honest and open – Nothing generates more negative media coverage than a lack of honesty and transparency. Therefore, being as open and transparent as possible can help stop rumours and defuse a potential media frenzy. This transparency must be projected through all communications channels: news interviews, social media, internal announcements, etc.
- Keep employees informed – Maintaining an informed workforce helps to ensure that business continues to operate as smoothly as possible. It also reduced the anxiety among all employees so that employees do not have to second-guess the severity of the situation.
- Have a documented procedure on how to resume your critical functions – In the event of a crisis, the most important thing is to have a detailed plan on how you can resume your critical business functions. If you lose access to your workplace, where can you resume your work? If you lose a critical workforce, is the alternate workforce to fill in the gap identified? Thus, having contingency plans to manage different types of crisis will greatly improve your crisis readiness and speed up the recovery process.
- Set a recovery milestone and train your employees to prepare for the crisis – Employee awareness on how to react and response during a crisis is also important so as to ensure that the organisation can overcome the crisis smoothly. Mapping out the recovery milestone and assign roles and responsibilities for relevant staff during crisis could be a very effective way to overcome a crisis efficiently.
- Regular updates from time-to-time – To ensure that the crisis management plan remains relevant and those involved are familiar with it, it has to be updated on a regular basis involving the relevant key personnel.
A crisis that is not managed well can potentially wipe out decades of hard work and company’s value in a matter of hours. A well-managed crisis confirms that your company has the processes and procedures in place, to address almost any issue that may develop. In conclusion, it is a good practise that all organisations should have in place; a suitable crisis management plan which we also hope with a touch of good luck, which we will never need to use.