When a crisis erupts, it is human nature to want to start rushing around, to want to do something to put an end to the problem and put it right quickly.
What is most needed is a cool analysis, calm action and careful, considered communication.
Sometimes those who are closely involved in the day-to-day running of a business can be too involved to detach themselves practically and emotionally when that is needed in such a situation.
It is the same even in a crisis test exercise. In a simulation the day-to-day operations and management team should not judge their own efforts.
In both a crisis test and in a real crisis situation, the objective views of knowledgeable independent experts are highly valuable. They can judge the current scenario or problem against previous experiences and use that to recognise what could or should be done, and then advise accordingly with an objective viewpoint, with no concern for blame or guilt.
Business as usual
The classic approach in a crisis is often, where reasonable, to pledge – ‘it’s business as usual’ to retain customer and staff confidence. Crisis experts would advise that in such a situation, the established management should concentrate on keeping the business running as usual and give responsibility for all aspects of the crisis, from analysis to communication, to a dedicated team of independent experts and a small select group of internal staff who will concentrate solely on the problem until it is solved and approach it calmly and objectively.
The reason why many major organisations have independent, non-executive directors on their Boards or consultants to the executive directors is because they need that objective view whether it is about, for instance, business strategy, acquisitions or sales, or a crisis.
Sometimes the urge to do something or say something in a crisis is so strong that it seems irresistible. An independent consultant can stand back, look at the bigger picture, or view it as the outside world sees it – and then perhaps advise that doing and saying nothing is genuinely the right response.
If you would like an objective view of your crisis communications plans, we‘d be happy to help.
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