Keep calm and carry on

Maintaining business confidence with crisis management


December 2018


This article is co-authored between Rezilienze and Implement Consulting Group. It was originally co-authored by Jeannette Chua.

From cybersecurity breaches to viral negative social media coverage, there is a variety of situations that can put extreme pressure on your organisation for days, months or even permanently reduce your capacity to function as usual. This can be a result of poor damage control internally over operations or worse, the inability to manage the subsequent impact on customers, employees and your own reputation.

Nothing increases stress and emotional pressure like being in the thick of a crisis. Not just for you, but also your clients, employees and even the public. Whether or not you have full knowledge and understanding about the situation, decisive actions are needed to ensure your clients, the public or both retain confidence in your organisation. Crisis management is all about creating sufficient overview and situational awareness to adapt to such challenges and respond swiftly, so as to contain any negative impact on you and your various stakeholders. Below, we outline three levers to enhance your responsiveness to such incidents.

Planning for the worst

Complex crisis situations will have a broad range of impact. From the ability to deliver to your customers, to loss of life, environmental damage and not the least, social media backlash, all of which can significantly affect your reputation and brand. No single plan can guide you through these scenarios but understanding the mechanisms within crisis management can give you a competitive edge. React faster and more appropriately to manage the breadth and depth of impact to all affected. In short, stay ahead by creating the time and space for you to take the right actions.

Design vs action

Figuring out what a crisis management plan should contain can be a complex task. Very often, we see “plans” consisting of the crisis management design specification rather than actual content for what actions need to be taken and by whom in live critical situations. The design specification is essentially a framework to set out, e.g. who should be addressed or activated, how the plan should be tested, how to train the staff needed etc. The crisis management plan itself should be kept as simple as possible: no one will read a cumbersome document when stressed, and it also better enables involved personnel to focus on the key objectives of their actions – to remember what and who is important.

Practice makes perfect

“You get good at what you do every day”, so exercising is key. The core foundation for a well-oiled crisis management set-up is an effective training and exercise programme. Too often, plans are considered to be implemented as soon as they are written and published or incorporated into the quality management system. The crisis management plan is worth nothing if not tested by the people who are allocated for the respective team roles.

Making the best of a crisis is undoubtedly stressful, but the ability to respond and communicate to protect your employees and customers and to maintain a level of control not only helps you recover from disasters, it could also make you more resilient to challenges in the future.