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Updated: September 4, 2023 Advice

101: Crisis Management

If you think your company doesn’t need a crisis-management plan, think again. Consulting company PwC interviewed more than 2,000 global senior executives in 2019. They found 69% experienced at least one corporate crisis in the last five years – an average of three in the same time period – the most common ones being a financial, tech, or operations failure. When it comes to crisis, consider these tips.

New companies need plans, too. “Young companies tend to think with the bravado of a 16-year-old with a new driver’s license. They believe nothing can go wrong,” Susan Stoga of Carson Stoga Communications told Forbes. “Often, crisis plans are on the to-do list but not on the priority list.” Instead, young leaders would be best served by seeing a crisis plan as insurance or risk management against the reputation of the company or brand.

Follow the rules. Management solutions organization Smartsheet has 11 Essential Rules for Crisis Management: prepare and make crisis readiness an ongoing process; stay calm and convey confidence to others; gather clear and accurate facts about the crisis as soon as possible; prioritize people over property; don’t make things worse; communicate clearly and quickly, but avoid a knee-jerk reaction; appoint one credible spokesperson and have consistent messaging; never, ever lie; make sure the crisis team has support and resources; don’t lose touch with your humanity; recognize people are under stress and may be grieving; and learn from the crisis and fix any underlying problems it revealed.

Prioritize engagement. Effective leaders find ways to “engage and motivate, clearly and thoroughly communicating important new goals and information,” according to Harvard Business Review. Leaders should reach out daily to at least five team members, relating on a personal and then professional level. “One leader we know conducts 30-minute ‘wind-down’ sessions with direct reports each Friday afternoon … People share their states of mind along with the week’s highlights and low points,” according to HBR.

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