In CrisisReading Time: 3 minutes
Sudden business crises are inevitable.
Audits, employee issues, cash flow problems, and technology fails are just a few of the potential “panic buttons” we all encounter at some point.
Staying calm in crisis and developing a plan for dealing with it are the keys to surviving and emerging stronger.
When I worked for big companies, we used to sit down at least once a year and develop a crisis plan. That, in itself, could be anxiety-provoking. We simply made a list of all the bad things that could happen that would have a negative impact on our business, and then we mapped-out “What if?…” with each of them, coming up with hypothetical scenarios, best case and worst case assumptions, and action plans and responsibilities. We emerged from those sessions feeling in control.
But of course you can’t imagine everything bad or strange that could happen. Here are my top tips for crisis management:
- Stay calm and focused.
- Build a trusted, expert, and rational team to help you problem-solve. Reach out to your “inner circle” (in real life or LinkedIn) to find others who have faced similar situations.
- Consider engaging a PR firm with experience in crisis management. Have that person or company on-hand before you need it. The best time to find that resource is when you don’t need it. Think of it as the EpiPen for a business bee sting.
- Appoint one or two mature points of contact for dealing with the media in times of crisis. Make sure those people are well-trained and are working from a prepared (and legally-approved) statement.
- Tell the truth. Trying to “spin” or whitewash a bad situation can only make it worse. As we all learned from the NFL video debacle, the Clinton-Lewinsky affair and Watergate, cover-ups and denial can sometimes make things worse — and damage credibility.
- Develop a contingency plan. Make sure everyone on your team knows what his/her role is.
- Stay calm and focused.
After the drama has blown-over (as it always does), review your Google profile and make sure that you are consistently communicating good news. Over time, anything icky that’s cropped-up on your profile will be overshadowed by positive stuff.
P.S. Some of these tips apply to personal crises too!
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