Part two of a two-part series
In part one of this series on crisis resiliency, we discussed ways to cope with unpredictable or unanticipated events, including the six-step process that should guide your crisis management efforts. Here in part two, we will discuss three cornerstones of successful crisis management – internal communications, testing and practice, practice, practice.
There have been volumes written on external communication in crisis, but the need for fluid and comprehensive internal communication is discussed far less often. Because the transition from a status of ‘business as usual’ to full scale crisis management can be a matter of minutes, the quality and speed of communication between various parties within your organization can make all the difference in the outcome.
Since most companies are now widely dispersed across many operating locations and make use of outside contractors who could be entire continents away, it’s a good idea to create some type of virtual command center approach to keep all the players who may be involved connected and communicating. You can use internal forums, company-specific social media groups or a fully integrated service specifically built for crisis management.
It is simply unrealistic to expect that representatives from all affected areas can gather in one physical location. Not only is it quite common to run into situations where there just isn’t enough time to bring people together in a single place, but also many crises will leave you without established communications methods like functioning phone lines. In addition, with today’s global economy people should often be located closest to the areas where they can direct the local response and gather information on the ground, as opposed to wasting precious hours flying to a board room meeting somewhere.
With a virtual command center, you gain the ability to receive situation reports from many locations under different communications modes that can be logged to provide a comprehensive picture of the situation with the most current data possible. From the data that comes in, the leadership team, who may also be acting remotely, needs to be able to work through the six-step detect, evaluate, decide, recover, coordinate and monitor process of crisis management, which was discussed in part one of this series.
Testing and practice go hand-in-hand
However, before a crisis ever hits you must lay a foundation for your crisis management through a commitment to testing and practicing your crisis management plans.
Luckily for you, testing and practice go hand in hand, making it easy to tackle both of them with the same set of exercises. Putting your crisis management plans through their paces with your employees is perhaps the very best way, short of a real crisis, to find flaws or gaps in your planning. From tabletop exercises to full-fledged, multi-day trials involving outside parties, crisis simulations are easily scaled to fit your budget and time constraints so there’s no reason not to make use of them.
Is it worth it?
All of this preparation is a major investment by an organization to anticipate any obstacles to operational resiliency and build a state of readiness with a team that can be mobilized at any time. Does it take a willingness to put money out with no immediate return? Yes, no doubt about it. However, crisis prevention costs are always a mere fraction of the losses that are typically incurred as a result of crises for which there had been inadequate preparation.
Will investing in proper preparation save you significant costs versus facing a crisis unprepared? Absolutely.
If the crisis team is well-rehearsed and can work together effectively using all of the tools at their disposal, they will be well-placed to deal with any event, prepared for or not.
Don’t forget to treat each crisis as a learning experience. Track and record all data and communications (remember to keep anything confidential encrypted). Once you’ve navigated the trouble, devote some time to reviewing everything that occurred, making sure to pinpoint the causes of any troubles, as well as making note of what worked particularly well or any on-the-fly solutions that were perfectly suited to the circumstances.
Internal communication, testing and practice play an essential role in making the organization resilient against crises. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t recognize this until they’ve suffered enormous costs that might have been avoided. Don’t be caught unprepared. Get started today and enhance your organization’s resiliency.