Preparing your business for a crisis starts with having a plan in place; that way, when an incident does arise, you can respond swiftly to minimize damage and bring your organization back on track quickly.
Create a crisis management plan by identifying all potential crises and their resulting impacts, then structuring your action plan as a project, including team roles, activation protocol and response procedures.
1. Identify Your Key Stakeholders
As soon as a crisis arises, it’s vital to identify those most affected and determine how best to communicate with them – this will prevent misinformation and rumors from spreading further.
Internal key stakeholders for businesses include employees, board members and owners who have an interest in daily operations and decisions; external key stakeholders could include distributors, regulatory agencies or customers – those outside the business who may have financial or personal connections but don’t directly work for it.
When crises strike, it’s essential that businesses give the situation their full consideration and respond in ways that support long-term goals. When Delta Air Lines was hit with financial turmoil in 2020, CFO Paul Jacobson decided not to retire as planned and focused on restoring its reputation by securing emergency government aid and postponing long-term capital spending – tactics which ultimately helped increase the airline’s financial stability.
2. Create a Communication Plan
Crisis management plans must include plans that address all aspects of a company during an emergency situation, from facilities and critical infrastructure to IT services and business processes. Once your crisis plan is in place, identify who is accountable for overseeing each of these areas as well as who will address any problems that may arise.
Your plan must also include a communication strategy. This will enable you to keep customers and employees updated in an expedient manner while assuring accurate and consistent information flow. Furthermore, it should address how to respond to social media inquiries or rumors as well as create fact sheets for media distribution.
A good plan must also be regularly tested and updated, for instance if your company relocates or hires additional employees, the crisis response plans should be adjusted to reflect this change. Furthermore, as evidenced by the coronavirus pandemic, effective crisis management plans can make a critical difference – they may help avert disaster altogether, limit its duration or turn it into an opportunity for growth for your business.
3. Create a Response Plan
Your crisis management plan must include all the information needed to respond rapidly in an emergency, including emergency contact lists and steps, list of actions steps, resolution plans (i.e. earthquake or hurricane response plans), roles and responsibilities assigned to team members so there’s no confusion on what steps should be taken in an emergency.
Your plan must also outline how you’ll communicate with all stakeholders, which may include employees, customers, investors, local communities and media outlets. Early and clear communication with these groups is essential so they are kept abreast of the situation and any associated issues – this will help minimize negative effects on your business and can even minimize negative press coverage of it all. Press coverage could play an essential role so ensure your team is prepared to deal with it if it happens again.
4. Create a Recovery Plan
As your business expands and develops, it is vital that your crisis management plans stay relevant. New employees, additional offices in other cities or even major changes to its structure may alter how these plans are activated and which steps must be taken next.
Be it financial loss that threatens bankruptcy or organizational misstep that necessitates public apologies, it’s crucial for any company at risk to identify potential crises and determine what response is necessary. Next, use project planning techniques to develop an action plan including team roles, an activation protocol, and recovery procedures if applicable.
Training each member of your team on what actions to take should a crisis arise is also highly recommended, in order to quickly respond and protect everyone during any disaster, as well as minimize confusion across different departments or levels of government when managing this type of situation.