You would be hard pressed to create a list of things in life that are more easily accomplished solo, rather than as part of a team. Crisis management and business continuity are certainly not on that list, as the broad scope of knowledge required, and responsibilities that must be undertaken, are perfectly suited to a group.
In a Steelhenge Crisis Thinking blog post, Katie Collison shared a list of undeniable reasons why business continuity and crisis management are joint efforts, including these examples:
Anyone who has been involved in a crisis will tell you they are tiring. Adrenaline keeps the team going for the first few hours – maybe even the first day – but people soon experience fatigue. If you have a team or, even better, primary and secondary teams of people who know the crisis management plan and have been thoroughly trained in its application, then you have the capacity to implement a shift or rotation system. You have people who can take over when you’re not able to think straight; decisions which could make the difference between survival and failure of your organisation should not be made by an exhausted individual.
We can fool ourselves with adrenaline (and loads of caffeine) for a time, but at some point everyone needs a break. The combination of an incredibly demanding, near-instant and always-on news cycle, and the many tasks involved, mean that no one person can possibly handle everything themselves. Having a team also means that you can call on specialists to handle sensitive tasks like copy writing, media training, and the like.
Not for the faint-hearted and not to be underestimated: information management is essential to ensure that the right people have the most complete and accurate information possible at the right time. During a crisis, decisions and actions plus the information they were based upon must be recorded to be used as evidence if there are any later investigations; this is not something commonly done if only one or two people try to manage the situation on their own.
Can you imagine trying to create strategy, craft messaging, communicate with stakeholders, and keep your finger on the pulse of the situation, and doing it all fast enough to keep up with social media and online news, while documenting your every move? It's simply too much for one person to handle, at least if they're planning to do their job well.
How can you build this all-important teamwork?
Group exercises are one good way to build teamwork. If a team exists only on paper, it’s not much of a team, so learn to work together. Planning, and testing those plans together will help bond crisis teams that will need to function as a unit when things get gritty.
Just communicating with each other regularly is an often-overlooked team-building practice. You want to make sure each department is updating the others and everyone is on the same page, not only for business continuity and crisis management purposes, but also to streamline and advance the quality of day-to-day business. Don't underestimate the value of more personal interactions when it comes to team building either; something as simple as meeting for coffee on a regular basis can greatly enhance your team's cohesion and comfort levels.
At the same time, it's important to walk the fine line between open communication and pestering. Communicate too frequently about mundane details, or ask too much of people on top of their normal job description and you risk losing people's attention, or alienating them altogether. Be diplomatic, patient, and keep in mind that people are likely juggling other priorities that they genuinely feel are more pressing than yours.
Creating a well-oiled team requires effort, but the payoff will come in volumes when crises threaten to throw your business off track.