A crisis can strike your business any time, anywhere. If you didn’t have a contingency plan in place and you find yourself in crisis, having an effective crisis management plan is paramount. Here’s what you need to do.
Before a crisis hits your business, it’s important to have already considered how it could impact your employees, suppliers, customers and your business’s value. But we appreciate that this isn’t the case for all businesses, and the plan might not have you completely covered. Rather than wasting time wishing you’d prepared better, act smart now. 79 percent of board members say their organisations aren’t very well-prepared to deal with a crisis event, so you’re not alone. Do the best you can now, but make sure you have a contingency plan in place for the future.
If your business is undergoing instant crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 or any other unexpected disaster, follow these steps to ensure you pull through.
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Create a crisis management plan with these 7 steps
Remember that your plan needs to have clear objectives. During a crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak, your main goals are to protect individuals who may be threatened by it, make sure key audiences are kept in the loop, and that your business weathers the storm.
1. Determine how the crisis will impact your business
You should start the risk assessment straight away. Whether it’s a financial, technological or natural crisis, you need to establish how it is going to impact your business. This could be dissatisfied customers, a drop in sales, an increase in expenses, a tarnished reputation etc.
Make sure you are clear on the potential ramifications of the crisis and you are prepared for the worst-case scenario.
2. Decide what actions you need to take
There are three common crisis management methods you can use to soften the blow of the catastrophe and get you back on track. Let’s find out which one is right for your business below…
- Recovery crisis management. This is the method you’d use when the crisis occurs out of the blue, for example when your software unexpectedly crashes.
- Proactive crisis management. This is when a business anticipates the crisis occurring and proactively takes steps to prepare for it.
- Responsive crisis management. This is when a business has prepared a response to a type of crisis situation that they can call on whenever they need to.
3. Delegate responsibility to different team members
A crisis like the COVID-19 will most likely impact every aspect of your business. You need to decide which members of your team are going to carry out resolution plans and actions. Your response team should consist of a core team overseen by the CEO and is often drawn from legal, HR and comms. But it’s important to use your employees’ expertise and capabilities to guide your decision, and not just base it off their titles.
This response team will provide the framework and strategic guidance, and an extended team will attend to the specific actions that are needed to survive the crisis. Depending on the nature and scale of the crisis, you might want to look into getting advice from consultants or lawyers.
4. Develop a resolution plan for the crisis
This will need to include:
- How long you think it will take to resolve the crisis
- The tools and resources you are going to use
- Who is going to be involved
- How you are going to address the issue with your customer
- How you can prevent it from worsening or happening again in the future
5. Identify a spokesperson
When a crisis can impact the health and wellbeing of your employees, customers or the general public, it’s probably going to attract media attention. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, it’s a good idea for your business to speak from one voice to keep your message clear and consistent. Your business’s spokesperson may need to be prepared to participate in interviews with the press. Make sure you are transparent and honest. If not, you risk jeopardising your relationship with your customer.
6. Communicate openly with customers and suppliers
The last thing you want is your customers or suppliers learning about your business’s crisis through the media. As part of your crisis communication plan, you will need to address how you will regularly update both parties as the crisis unfolds. Of course, with COVID-19, your suppliers will be aware of the situation, just make sure to keep an open communication network.
7. Train your staff
Make sure every staff member is comfortable with the role they are going to play. Run presentations and meetings about how they are expected to fulfil their job. Make sure to also inform staff members that aren’t having a direct role in resolving the crisis what they are expected to do. With face-to-face contact being restricted to limit the spread of COVID-19, you can use web conferencing software like WebEx to achieve this.
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Remember, keeping your people and working environment safe is a priority
While a crisis has the potential to seriously harm your business, you need to always have your employees’ and customers’ health and safety at the heart of every decision you make. As the COVID-19 outbreak progresses, your employees and the communities they work in will look to you for a response and guidance. Make sure to constantly review your HR policies, first aid policies and travel rules.
By following these steps, you should be able to take a focused approach, maintain your business’s reputation and reduce the long-term effects of the crisis. Make sure to read our other article, ‘Create a Crisis Contingency Plan for Your Business’ to find out how you can prepare for any future crises. Also check out these 12 tips to help your business survive COVID-19.
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©