Not If, But When: How to Prepare for the Inevitable Crisis
The ability to remain calm and make careful strategic decisions when a crisis occurs is an essential skill for business leaders. This has never been more true than today when it seems as though a crisis can crop up from the least likely origin and spread out of control before you know it. Information, both good and bad, true and false, travels nearly instantaneously across the globe thanks to modern technology, and plays plays a large part in complicating the already difficult task of managing a crisis.
The near universality of the internet allows leaders to respond quickly in times of need, but it also makes it all too easy for a crisis to get out of control before the truth can catch up. Remaining calm in the middle of a crisis is the surest way to give you the best chance of coming out on the other side as strong as ever.
Being prepared to take decisive action immediately is easier to accomplish when you are equipped with some best practices for dealing with crises. Here are 5 tips for leading in a crisis and getting out of crisis mode:
Create a crisis response plan and team ahead of time.
You should have some blanket policies in place for dealing with a crisis before one ever happens. Assigning and recruiting specific roles such as investigation leads, media ambassadors, and legal experts will make sure everyone knows what is expected of them while also ensuring you don’t forget any of the pieces of your crisis management puzzle. This time spent preparing will help you consider the possibilities of what may happen in times of crisis while increasing your chances of remaining calm when something inevitably goes wrong.
Focus on the facts.
As cliche as it sounds, it is important to get out in front of the story before social media-fueled public opinion takes off. Transparency and authenticity are vital; you must know what is true and factual before going public. The modern audience is generally geared to distrust those in power—especially business leaders. If you make a mistake with the facts and it later comes out that the details don’t match your story, most people will assume you intentionally misrepresented the truth.
Be honest, open, and forthright.
Transparency is incredibly important. If you acknowledge the issue and your audience believes that you are truly trying to get to the bottom of it, they are much more likely to give you some leeway. Furthermore, establishing a history of honesty will engender goodwill from the public, making them much more likely to side with you in the future. A measured and strong response to a crisis will make it easier to get people to listen next time there is an issue.
Deal with the things under your control and ignore the rest.
It’s important to realize that not everything can be monitored and controlled at all times. Don’t waste energy worrying about aspects of the issue over which you have no sway. Instead, focus all your efforts on the ways you can help alleviate the problem and navigate through the crisis. The most important thing you can do during a crisis is to prove that you are a level-headed professional who can lead even in times of distress. This is especially true for your employees. They rely on the leadership to, well, lead. A frank approach and empathetic response to employee concerns will go a long way towards allaying their fears and help them perceive matters in a more positive manner. It also is important to coach your employees in how they are to respond to inquiries. (Don’t kid yourself; it’s inevitable, they will get inquiries.) Focusing on what you can control and acting to solve the crisis will increase your confidence within yourself as well as the confidence others have in you.
Solve the issue to prevent it from happening again.
Responding to a crisis is initially about the immediate nature of the issue. While getting the media and the public to see things from your perspective and trust in you is imperative, so is fixing the problem itself. Not only will addressing the underlying issue prevent it from happening again, but it will also show that you are a person of action who owns up to your mistakes and fixes them.
Regardless of how well prepared you are, crises are inevitable. Remaining calm in the face of adversity will go a long way in getting the public and your employees behind you so the problem can be quickly addressed. A crisis is an opportunity to learn from mistakes and prove yourself to your team and customers.
For help with preparing for and dealing with the legal side of crisis management, contact Lynch Law Firm today.