The question of how to cope in a crisis is one that has always been important but seems to have taken on increased saliency with every passing day of the last several years. It’s stunning to think that someone who is just a teenager has already lived through two of the deepest financial recessions in recorded history, and there’s not a person out there who can tell them with confidence that the worst is over.
Crises can happen on a number of levels – the international level of those named above on one hand, and a crisis in the home on the other, with a broad spectrum in between. From a business point of view, a crisis can take on many forms, but one thing that they all have in common is that they need to be managed. In this piece, we will look at important messages to remember when the time comes for crisis management. If you can implement the right strategies at the right time, you can come through a crisis and will be stronger for doing so.
First, take a headcount
No matter the nature of a crisis – whether it’s a data breach or an active shooter incident or anything in between – it’s important to account for everyone in the business. It’s vital to know first of all that they are safe and well and to check that they are responsive to contact. In some cases, you’ll need to get a message to employees that they should stay home until advised otherwise. Only when you know where everyone is and that you can speak to them can you assess the full severity of the situation.
Gather all the information you can
Your reactions in a crisis are vital to ensuring you can survive the experience and come out the other side, and they cannot be based upon blind instinct. You’ll need all the facts you can get – if there is an active threat you’ll need to know where it is, and how far it can get as well as whether it can be isolated. If your office has something like a government command center, you’ll be able to monitor as many areas as possible and also collate vital information in one place. Once you’ve assessed the situation from there, you can brief law enforcement or whoever needs to know.
Control the outflow of information
While it is important to transmit details to authorities, your instinct in a crisis should be that information is released on a need-to-know basis. If you’re in a situation where human life is at threat, then it is important that the next of kin are kept informed. At the same time, it’s beneficial to release information in a way that does not alert any malefactor to information they can use. In any other type of crisis, it’s still smart to keep cards close to your chest. Your best play here is to maximize the information you can leverage and minimize that which can be used against you.
Dealing with a crisis in the moment is one of the hardest things anyone can do; you can find yourself second-guessing every decision. It’s important to use all the time, resources, and information available to you and work for the most benign possible outcome.