Thursday, April 7, 2011

Crisis Management, Communications and Control

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Crisis Management and Communications.

This article written by Douglas Castle and originally published in Expert Advice And Insights From TNNWC, a publication of TNNWC and The National Networker Companies.

Every leader and team participant who plays an integral role in your company has an obligation to every colleague. If you are in an entrepreneurial enterprise or small business this obligation is all the more critical, in how it is handled and it involves observation, communication, messaging, problem-solving and reporting on the status of any anticipated or actualized crisis. While we'd all prefer to follow a strategic business plan and make incremental, expedient organized progress toward achieving our objectives, crises arise -- it is the nature of business (i.e., problem-solving to achieve an objective) to throw us the occasional crisis or catastrophe. Each one is a test.

If you either recognize or anticipate a crisis that you cannot immediately resolve yourself, you must:

1) Determine all parties within your company who may be affected, and how they may be affected;

2) Immediately notify the parties whose efforts could be a) damaged the most, and b) who are best equipped to handle the crisis so that those parties can make alternative arrangements, or attend to the critical issue. Information and intelligent, reasoned action can contain a small problem and keep it from being catapulted into a catastrophe. If the water is going to be turned off, if your web server is acting up, if the email system isn't going to be working, if payroll is going to tight, if a vendor is no longer qualified to supply your company or if an employee has been terminated, this message must be sent out to everybody affected with efficiency and immediacy;

3) Get the message out directly (yourself, without waiting for a committee meeting, or any other bureaucratic waste of precious time) via email, telephone, or text to all parties who will be affected or may be affected -- it is important, before a crisis ever emerges, that you have established multiple lines of communication to each member of your organization in case of emergency, and that you have a means of signalling that a crisis is in process, or that a crisis is anticipated;

4) Update all affected personnel of what actions are being taken to resolve the critical issue, what they can expect, and an estimated (conservative) timeframe for repair. This is what those folks in Human Resources refer to as "expectation management;"

5) Remember - early, honest notice of a crisis, and updates until it is resolved minimize the organizational and emotional trauma of the crisis, the ancillary damage that might otherwise be caused by a lack of information or by misinformation. A crisis should not be a big secret - it should be competently contained until it can be remedied and business can go back to "work as usual." [ahhh.....]


The better that you manage a crisis, the less that it will pull you and your team or organization off course. In fact, well-handled crisis management doesn't create the desperation and/or confusion associated with negative surprises or exponentialized rumors -- it is more analogous to improvising lines in a play when you've forgotten part of the script.

How you handle a critical situation will determine if you are meant to lead, or merely menat to attend to the limited scope of your job. Going further, leaders are made because of how they have handled critical situations. For those of you who appreciate silver linings, a crisis represents an opportunity for leaders to develop and to be recognized. Now onward with your mission, captains, commanders and leaders of growing companies, both existing and to be recognized.


Douglas Castle

Chairman and CEO


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