What to do after a crisis hits
Crises are going to hit your organization in the fast-paced world of today. When one does, you’ll want to ensure your organization is able to recover and resume operations as quickly as possible. While adequate preparation will reduce the impact of a crisis and potentially allow you to avert one completely, integrating a recovery process into your crisis management plan is critical.
In addition to taking steps to mitigate risks and incidents before they escalate and to respond to a crisis in a timely fashion, your people need to understand the actions required of them after a crisis strikes. This involves taking steps to communicate with stakeholders, using the most relevant expertise to assess and resolve the damage, and having a process in place to apply the lessons you learn.
The power of timely and authentic communication
You’ve been hit by a crippling crisis that’s made headlines around the globe. How can you shift momentum and convince your key stakeholders (customers, shareholders, employees, etc.) that you’ll rectify the issue and that recovery is on the horizon? The answer: authentic communication.
In the aftermath of a crisis, it’s important to remember that nobody expects perfection–but people do expect open lines of communication and real-time information. While any crisis can negatively affect stakeholder trust, it’s possible to rebuild that trust if you respond the right way, at the right time.
In textbook cases, we’ve seen large car manufacturers rebound from widespread brake failures and pharmaceutical giants recover from massive product recalls, largely because they made it a priority to communicate with their stakeholders and demonstrate an authentic desire to right all wrongs. They publicized their response plan and made it clear they had applied the lessons they had learned throughout the crisis.
By expressing a willingness to correct past mistakes and talk about them openly, taking accountability and demonstrating their commitment to ensuring a similar event would never happen again, these companies were able to emerge stronger than before.
Source invaluable expertise
Because not all organizations can have sufficient subject matter expertise in-house to deal with crises when they arise, it makes sense to have vetted third-party suppliers lined up to call upon when a crisis hits.
This will involve determining, well ahead of time, the type of expertise that may be required—such as reputational, physical, or financial—and building the best team possible to address those challenges. This team might consist of cyber specialists, forensic investigators, crisis managers, legal advisors, medical advisors (in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack), psychologists, and a host of others, depending on your organization’s risk profile and needs.
While there is no standard recovery timeline, your journey will ultimately depend on your company and the extent of the crisis you’re dealing with. In the event you don’t have this expertise in-house, having a team of experts act as an extension of your own team will help make the process run a lot smoother, and allow you to get back to business as usual much quicker.
A teaching moment
While it may not seem like it at the time, a crisis is an opportunity to strengthen your business operations and improve your enterprise’s approach to crisis management. While the event is still fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s a good time to assess how the crisis management team–and the organization–managed through their responsibilities when the stakes were high. There’s nothing like real-life experience to help you identify process gaps, unforeseen risks and vulnerabilities, and overlooked stakeholders. The experience can teach you a great deal about how to enhance your response efforts in the future.
By heeding the lessons you learned and putting them into practice, you’re capitalizing on the silver lining of a negative event—and ensuring your organization is even stronger and more resilient moving forward.