Let’s face it most organisations have a crisis from time to time – although not with the alarming regularity we see from some.  I was reminded of this by the rather spectacular collapse recently of a business whose leader I met a few years ago whilst it appeared to be in an unstoppable upwards trajectory.
So what do you do when you end up in the unfortunate position of being in or heading towards crisis.

Crisis Management Checklist

Here are a few ways to go about solving things as quickly as possible.

  • Be honest.  How often do we see organisations with problems cover up, hide or deny their problems. Sometimes by accident, frequently by design.  Alternative iterations of this are a small team recognising it but trying to pretend to the rest of the staff that things are ok. Alternatively, partially recognising the problem – “It’s only a small iceberg!”.  It’s hard enough to solve problems – but the best starting point is candour and honesty. It’s pretty impossible to fix a problem if no one acknowledges it exists.  Denial did not do the Titanic much good – and it won’t do you much good.
  • Don’t look for scapegoats. Getting out of a hole is hard enough. It is near impossible if the very team that could help you do it are all diving for cover to avoid recriminations.  There will be time enough to learn from mistakes in the long term.
  • Make sure you find the true source of the problem. At the end of the day if you have only found the effect without the cause you will only ever be papering over the cracks.
  • Balance the short term and long term needs. There’s no use fixing the effect of a problem if you leave the cause in place to create another problem. However there is equally no point in having a great long term vision if you don’t survive the immediate fallout.   If you have been totally honest it will be a lot easier to get to this point.
    • What in the short term do you need to do to stem the problem and survive;
    • What in the long term do you need to do to rebuild.
  • If you have to take tough measures do so. The worst thing an organisation can do is the death of a thousand cuts. “You know the savings we said last month and the month before were final … well there is another round”.
  • Remember your staff and other stakeholders. Too often organisations in firefighting mode forget those key to them – their staff, customers and suppliers – or some of those groups.  If you have been running things well in the past, are candid with people, and show a desire and plan to improve things, you will probably get cut more slack than you think.

Of course the more you understand, cater for and respect your staff, clients, stakeholders markets forces and market conditions as you go along the less likely you are to end up in crisis in the first place.

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