Although preparation is key to crisis-management, the reality of any emergency is that it always catches you off-guard. With the COVID-19 outbreak causing a quarantine period, many companies are experiencing their first crisis. With global health in serious jeopardy, businesses are having to adapt to the socio-economical upset through financial and HR solutions. A health crisis of this degree puts various factors at risk and involves multi-variable management solutions.
This global pandemic has not only caused hysteria around health and wellbeing but also towards the ambiguous timeline of self-quarantining. Many businesses have relocated to operate remotely, while others have suspended operations completely. With the new cause for adaptation comes proper crisis-management implementation for both staff and financial comfort. As businesses may redefine or seize operations, employees may feel left in the dark. We’ve compiled 7 crisis-management strategies for the current high-stress your company may be experiencing:
Work With The Facts
Times of crises are usually surrounded by a surplus of information, which ultimately leaves everyone under- or mis-informed. This breeds fear and panic responses that prevent solutions and exacerbate the problem. COVID-19’s health emergency requires responsible sharing and consumption of information, as it seems overcommunication is causing heightened confusion. Employees may feel perplexed, so it’s important to get a clear understanding of the facts and communicate them openly, clearly, and correctly. Stay relevant to the problem and concern your company with solutions-based thinking.
When discussing crisis-related plans, approach employees with clear explanations and potential solutions. Prioritize employee health by implementing a work-from-home strategy while providing resources for health checks, hygiene etiquette, and financial aid. As the news never seems to get turned off, it’s easy to lose sight during a crisis. This delays resolution on both small and large scales, and cooperation increases when communication is simplified and results-focused.
Activate Crisis-Management Response Teams
Implement a crisis-management response team by assembling senior management operatives to handle and initiate protocol. Recruiting this team to represent employee, client, and customer response, and internal admin roles will organize HR, security, financial, etc. concerns. It’s essential to have a designated team qualified to run crisis-related procedures to function with the same power structure and company culture your employees and clients are a part of.
This team should operate directly with employees and set up structures that allow open communication and operational agency remotely. Sync software or programs that allow internal messaging, video-conferencing, and data collection such as Slack or Google. Create schedules to touch-base on both work-related and crisis-related intel. For more tips, check this out.
Devise Separate Communication Plans for Internal and External Operations
Continuing from the previous tip, identify the main groups that require frequent communication and collaboration. Separate employees, customers, business clients, suppliers, investors, etc., and adjust their own communications structure before delivering any messages. Consider what they need to know, how often, and how it should be said, all of which factors are relative to the receivers.
This will allow you to respond quickly in-real time and prevent miscommunication or misjudgments that may slow down tasks and potentially jeopardize action. Knowing what to communicate in times of crises crucially depends on the audience. The information relevant to employees, stakeholders, and supply chain varies, along with how it is communicated.
Both employees and clients don’t know where to turn to, which can cause a panic state during a health emergency. Offering educational and empowering resources to help ease mental, physical, or financial stress is not only helpful, but seemingly necessary. Look at your employee audience and see what support looks like to them. Create a dialogue discussing this. For example, if a large percentage of your staff have young kids, offer child care or educational support.
Teamwork and collaboration often accelerate recovery time while increasing productivity. Though things may feel stagnant in more ways than one, create a sense of momentum by creating a collective culture in your company. Implement wellness strategies and embrace solidarity, especially in crisis situations.
Create, Edit, Execute Business Continuity Plans
If your business has an existing continuity plan, now is the time to use it. This usually involves delegating a checklist of common practices and functions your organization needs to perform. What those functions look like may change during a pandemic, so make suitable alterations and communicate that with all concerning staff. If your business hasn’t previously established one, it’s easy to incorporate in real-time. Business continuity plans are made to be altered with each emergency and can adapt to the technological bandwidth of your company. But, now is also the time to confront potential issues that may arise, and such a plan will help solve them. Here is how to get started.
You may want to ask questions like:
- Does your business have an approach or policies to implement in remote work?
- Or the appropriate software and technology to do so? Are employees well-versed in these programs?
- How do we define HR policies such as sick days, absenteeism, and days off?
- How can we control data security and privacy when working from home?
Rash decisions usually have undesired results and can be avoided be remaining calm. Although it’s easier said than done, thinking clearly will help you navigate through the confusion to find solutions. COVID-19 is overwhelming on multiple levels, which can exacerbate the issues at hand. Surrounding yourself with a strong team can help ease responsibility and create emotional support. Collaborate to look at the big picture of your company’s current needs and prioritize them.
Be open to make any adjustments in real-time and see where your business is most affected. Channel energy to where it needs to go to alleviate current and potential problems in times of emergency. Here are some ways you and your team can practice and implement mindfulness.
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
The first and arguably most important step in any crisis-management plan is preparation. Creating a general and adaptable plan(s) to implement in emergency situations will create a solid starting point for you and your staff. Communicating this plan, practicing it, and understanding how it can be flexible to various occasions will keep your company one step ahead. When this time passes and operations continue as normal, prioritizing this type of planning for future situations.
Incorporate it into your company culture and get feedback from customers and employees. Having knowledge on how to behave, cope, and adjust during uncertain times not only makes it more manageable, but promotes recovery on all grounds.
What To Focus On
- Stay calm and work with the facts for result-driven feedback.
- Sharing relevant information through appropriate communication strategies.
- Delegate teams and divide responsibilities while working remotely.
- Offer support in whatever form that looks like for your company.
- Prepare for the future.