How to Manage in a Crisis

Most people can remember where they were on September 11th 2001. This is known as a day that lived in infamy in the World, as the day that the world changed. In that time frame we learned of the public portion of leadership, as the media shared the public face of New York City’s Mayor Rudy Giuliani. What they did not share is the many other organizations and leaders who were collectively gathering to work a crisis situation.

The reason we never heard about these groups of people is that they did not lead in the public space nor for the need of publicity, rather they did it through the need of success. Within a strong organization, there is a plan for a crisis. This plan was quietly written over time; through experience and practice by the American military and several organizations.

The start of a crisis plan begins with knowing who is in charge and why.

The “why” is once again the most important part, as the person in charge (or the division in charge) of a crisis needs to be one who:

  • understands the stress of the situation;
  • can remain calm, and;
  • have the ability to bring confidence to everyone involved that success is going to occur at the end of the situation.

When a crisis strikes, most people feel they are ready to lead. What often happens is everyone puts in their thoughts, ideas and perspectives, which only cause more crisis than they do calm the mind and fears of those who have just entered the crisis.

Organizations that have not created a crisis management plan should be looking outside of their organization for leadership as they are not really ready for all of the issues that are about to come up.

An example of this is the current health crisis of 2020. Companies are doing what they know from the past and they are reacting on a consistent basis of fear. Within each company there are going to be many leaders who make decisions based solely on what they think is best for the company. Each of these decisions is going to cause:

  • more fear;
  • more issues, and;
  • more negativity than a company who has created a plan for a crisis.

When you are trained in crisis management you learn to handle situations very differently.

Within the leadership of a crisis, having a calm, level head is what matters. Since most organizations have not planned for this, there needs to be someone within the organization that is given the authority to make the decisions.

Then, everyone else needs to rally around that person. As stated above, this is not always easy to do. Since companies did not build a “How To for Crisis Management” into their model, the immediate action should be to hire a company that is trained to do this.

Looking Outward for Help is Important

If you are seeking an example of this, consider the TV show, Criminal Minds.

The police feel they know how to catch the criminal, and often are running in circles. When the FBI shows up with a trained team – they take over the situation and calmer heads tend to prevail. I know this is a TV show, yet in the current environment of a crisis, this is what businesses need.

Many are firing people, putting people on layoffs, or closing their doors to stave off the crisis. Yet there are other measures that can take place. Since there was no crisis management developed pre-budget, the modern businesses today need to work with crisis management companies to help them develop the proper approach for success.

The thought that may be going through the mind of a company right now is simply “how to survive” through this crisis.

You do so by stepping back, looking at what you want for your future, and asking yourself what it will take to get there. There are going to be many nay-sayers who are going to let you know all the ways you are going to fail. You will even share these thoughts yourself because what you have created did not include being forcefully shut down or asked to pivot in quite the way you are being asked to at this time.

As you look at your employees, the number of customers that you seem to have lost, and the time you feel it is going to take to get them back, everything seems very black at this time. The negative views that are surrounding you are from what is called a “fixed mindset”. Most every business owner has been taught and trained through a fixed mindset and this has survived them toward a success that they believe is working. What these business owners fall short on is a situation that they did not see coming, and in this situation – they were not ready.

In a time of crisis is when most businesses lose their footing and end up closing their doors

When we speak with or review data sets from failed businesses, we never hear from owners that they knew what went wrong. What happens most often is that businesses tend to work from behind the curve. When a crisis hits, they are sent even further behind, which causes them to create a negative spiral.

What needs to happen is businesses must create a crisis team. That team needs to be involved on a continual basis to do tasks such as:

  • planning;
  • preparing;
  • advocating for a crisis (just in case) situation.

Regardless of the size of the business, they need to have a Crisis Prevention Team that is ready to be put into action. This team should be created from within the company, so that leadership knows this list of players will act as advocates for the company’s best interest.

Due to the “newness” of needing such a department, companies need to look outward to organizations with knowledge in crisis management. Industrial/Organizational Psychologists and business professionals with a background in military training are excellent resources for such a need.

As you read this, you may be saying to yourself, “that seems so simple and yet what is the point because a crisis rarely occurs”. This is not true.

A Crisis Isn’t Just Caused by Nature

A crisis can occur through nature, through customer behaviors, or through product lines (to name just a few). Each of these situations causes management to be stressed and to struggle to find a positive solution. These sample situations are when your Crisis Team is enacted, and they work as a team to find your solutions. Most often, this is suggested to be a collection of staff who are not specifically company owners or directors. Instead, they are staff members who work together often and know one another well enough that under this different type of stress, they can react properly to get the situation resolved.

Through the good times, this team works together to create solutions to crisis processes and practice working through them so that when the crisis arrives, they are able to work together as one and help the whole organization move ahead.

In writing this article, the current coronavirus (COVID-19) is creating a pandemic around the world and shutting down many businesses due to the actions of the government. There is no specific situation that would have prepared businesses for this crisis directly, yet being able to manage it would allow for businesses to think about all situations prior to making knee jerk situations. When companies remove employees, who are trained and working well together, they are rarely (if ever) going to have those employees return. In the end, that could be more costly than simply saving dollars today.

Considering what is going on in the current business landscape, the most important factor at hand is for a crisis team to be the center of the operation and helping to manage and balance the company at this time. Focusing on a team like this needs to be viewed as the investment it is because they will be the lifeline you need when a crisis occurs again. You will use this team more than you realize.

There Is Help

We at Efrvsnt are educated and highly-skilled in crisis management. Our leadership has background in Organizational Leadership and military leadership training in times of crisis. Reach out to us today for help in putting together your company’s Crisis Team so that you are better prepared for the uncontrollable.

Transformational Leadership is within reach.

Get in touch with us today to learn more.