Guiding your team through a company crisis is a major test for any leader. It could be a financial scandal, a public relations blunder, a hostile takeover, or any number of sudden and shocking situations. Are you properly prepared?
In Case of Corporate Emergency . . .
We’ve developed a plan that might help you as you guide your team through this difficult time. This brief strategy should get you started with the basics of crisis management for leadership.
1. Gather your team.
Contact your employees and your own advisors. You’ll need your support network to pitch in while you support your staff. Your team will be reaching out to you at this time, so remember that you can,and probably should,also seek support.
2. Let reason reign.
Think logically and avoid knee-jerk reactions. Going with your first instinct is still a good policy but make sure you have all the information before you make any drastic decisions. Be reasonable and take time to assess the situation (and information) before you react.
3. Keep in touch.
Within reason, no one should be out of the loop. This will help ensure that your staff not only has all the information they need, but that they also understand what they should not reveal. A minor scandal could easily morph into a major debacle if a reporter contacts an employee who had not been told to avoid speaking with the press. Likewise, a few off-hand remarks on social media could ignite a media firestorm. Make sure everyone on your team is “on the same page.”
4. Live in the moment.
You need to deal with everything as it comes to you. Do not allow yourself or your team to become bogged down with either regret or anxiety. Let these emotions fuel your company’s response: determine how you will make amends for the current situation as you develop plans for avoiding this situation in the future. Living in the moment will also allow you to be flexible. Remember, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.“
5. Return to business as usual.
The best way to prove that everything will be okay is to continue business as usual, as best you can. Delegate where necessary. Returning to normal operations (or as close to normal operations as possible) shows your clients, customers, and staff, not to mention the media and the – public, that your company is back on track.
Soft skills are important for any role; especially for leaders. The best thing about soft skills? They can be improved! The following soft skills will help you during rough times.
Don’t confuse this with arrogance or even swagger. During a crisis, you need to show your team that you are competent, and that begins with being confident in your own abilities.
Deal with reality: do not minimize or catastrophize the situation at hand. Determine what concrete steps you need to take that will help you guide your team through this situation.
The American Management Association urges workplace leaders to adopt a “no-surprises” strategy with regards to communication. Keep everyone in the know, but judiciously. As news breaks, information and rumors can become conflated: it’s much easier to avoid spreading misinformation in the first place than it is to correct misinformation on a wide scale.
Show them that you are ready to lead. If you’re a new or replacement leader, you should begin as you intend to go on. Embrace your role and your staff will, too. Act as if the circumstances were ideal, even as you acknowledge that they are not.
A crisis, be it personal or professional, brings out a person’s true nature. A company crisis can provide opportunities for reinvention and reassessment. Remember that you are now the anchor for your team. With this combination of strategy and skills you should be able to weather the storm.