Crisis management expert Darrell Tracy Johnson explains what business crises entail and five ways to manage them effectively.
Darrell Johnson holds the title of Super Crisis Manager for a reason. He is an industry expert in helping businesses manage emergencies. Forbes Magazine acknowledged him as one of the top crisis managers in the country.
Business owners from around the globe consult Johnson for guidance, and he recently revealed his top advice to us. The following are five tips for managing a crisis as offered by the expert himself.
What Is a Business Crisis?
A business crisis is an event that causes significant disturbance to the company’s operation. It typically takes place without notice and causes danger or difficulty for the business.
There are seven main types of business crises.
- technological crises
- natural disasters
- personnel issues
- organizational mishaps
- competitor claims
- financial crises
- protests or confrontational situations
A business crisis may be “sudden” or “smoldering.” A sudden crisis pops up immediately without warning. A smoldering crisis offers warning signs and grows over time. Smoldering crises are easier to halt in their tracks than sudden ones, but ignorance or neglect may prevent them from being solved.
Managing a Business Crisis According to Darrell Johnson
Managing a business crisis begins with a plan the team follows until they develop a solution and return to business as usual. These are five steps to mitigating damage when an inevitable crisis occurs.
1. Create a Crisis Management Plan
The most critical step in crisis management begins before the damaging event occurs. Creating an effective plan allows you and your team to act immediately, mitigate the issue quickly, and minimize its effects.
Different types of businesses face varying crises. Johnson suggests starting with a list of possible crises that can affect your specific company. The next step is to create a variety of immediate responses you can send out when something occurs. These may include email responses, phone messages, tweets, and other social media posts.
It’s essential to know who is affected by a particular crisis and how to contact them so you can start mitigating immediately. Experts recommend taking less than 24 hours to send out an official statement to the public regarding the crisis. Remember that communication within the business and with outsiders must be clear, concise, and honest.
List the steps you and your teammates need to follow in the event of each crisis. A crisis can be averted more quickly when you have numerous hands on deck.
2. Round Up a Crisis Management Team
Several members of your team will inevitably be better at handling high-stress situations. Johnson recommends creating a team of problem solvers from several areas of the business, such as human resources, public relations, and marketing.
Other individuals you may need on your side during a crisis include first responders, lawyers, and consultants. Ensure every crisis management team member knows how to reach these individuals.
3. Train the Crisis Management Team Thoroughly
You may not see immediate financial results from taking time out of the day to train your crisis management team, but it can save you a lot of money when a damaging event occurs. Hold meetings and presentations and consider inviting a crisis management expert like Darrell Johnson into the office to speak with the team.
The crisis management team should know the steps they need to take if a crisis occurs and how to execute them quickly. Some crisis management training may also include the entire staff. For instance, companies located in Hurricane Alley should ensure all employees know where to take shelter and locate emergency supplies.
4. Remember It All Comes Down to Leadership
During a crisis is when business leaders absolutely must step up to the plate. Faulty leadership can lead to poor communication, slower action, and opportunities for chaos.
Leadership must stay true to the company’s values, lead employees, and remain available to the press and public. Company executives and other leaders must stay calm and collected even in the face of extreme stress. Lashing out will only increase conflict.
5. Update the Crisis Management Plan
Unfortunately, you may not learn how effective your business’ crisis management plan is until you use it. Use the time after the crisis subsides to assess how your team handled it. This may result in making changes to the initial plan to perform better next time.
Remember to acknowledge areas of the plan that went well and those that you don’t want to repeat. Crisis management is about growth, so it’s critical to use crises to improve your business as it moves forward.
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