Winning in Times of Crisis.
As a crisis response manager for a television network, I experienced dozens of crises during my tenure from in-studio floods, earthquakes, gas leaks, stalking of our on-air talent, power outages, winter storms, and even a deer crashing into our studios. Some crises lasted an afternoon, and others lasted months.
There are seven succinct steps you can take to win in times of crisis.
- Build a coalition of support: In a crisis, hundreds of decisions and actions will be necessary to make, too many for a singular person or team to do. Go beyond your organizational walls and tap into experts, business partners, and customers to develop a coalition of support that you can lean on to help make the right decisions.
- Know what recovery looks like for your organization*: By defining what recovery is for your organization, it will give you and your team clarity for the actions you need to take. Recovery isn’t just about the results you expect; it is also about the values you will use as guidance to achieve your goals. Those organizations that already have strong organizational values and a distinct, well-communicated vision are those that will be most successful in a crisis.
- Develop a plan for stakeholders to follow: In a crisis, there are at least three stages to recovery; the crisis stage, the restoration stage, and the “normalcy” stage. Your goals should focus on reducing the impact of the crisis, improving organizational value, and celebrate your progress to normalcy. Every plan should consist of well-defined milestones to recovery and those individuals who are responsible for achieving the milestones. Because your employees are looking for guidance, providing them with benchmarks will give them steps they can take to be successful.
- Consistently concise communication: In any crisis, uncertainty threatens recovery. In an emergency, people look to their leaders to calm their fears, give them direction, and provide information. When there is a lack of communication, people naturally will fill the gap with misinformation or rumors. Messaging should address what you know, what you don’t know, and the next actions everyone should take. It should also tap into people’s intrinsic motivation by sharing stories from the frontline of the crisis.
- Empower Ownership: As stated earlier, there are hundreds of decisions that will be made during a crisis. A single person or even a leadership team can’t make all the decisions during an emergency. By demanding accountability from your stakeholders, you empower them to handle their assigned responsibilities. For your employees to be successful in a crisis, you will need to make sure you give them the knowledge, ability, and systems they need to handle their responsibilities.
- Celebrate Wins: This is particularly important during the restoration stage, where things are getting better due to the hard work and dedication of your team. Recognize their effort through celebration; it can be as simple as having pizza delivered, giving them gift certificates to a restaurant, or providing them with additional time off. Research shows that marking progress with a celebration increases an individual’s motivation, builds a sense of community, and improves productivity.
- Do An After Action Report: Ask yourself these three questions;
- What did we do well?
- What did we not do well?
- What changes will we make in the future?
Note: In seven years as a Crisis Response Manager, each crisis was an opportunity for my team and me to improve our response. This simple activity of asking ourselves these three questions always lead to insights in which we put in place for the next crisis.
A crisis is a disruption in our routine. It makes us feel uncomfortable, anxious, concerned, and even fearful. Yet, every time I was in a crisis, I saw ordinary people rise to the occasion, fight through their fears, put others before themselves, and do what was necessary to succeed.
These seven steps helped the organizations I guided during crisis come out on the other side stronger, better, and more prepared to handle whatever the world would throw at them. They will help you as well.
*Is it time to Pivot? We can find opportunity in a crisis to pivot to a new direction or handle a new role, or to provide a new-found service. I have heard hundreds of stories from organizational leaders how they pivoted during and after a crisis to improve their overall mission.
Your Manager’s Guide to Excellence
At the intersection of performance, accountability, and inspiration.
Winning Crisis is now an interactive workshop to teach your managers how to lead in times of crisis. Contact John at John@johnthalheimer to bring this fun and interactive virtual seminar to your organization.
With over twenty-five years of experience working with supervisors, managers, and leaders to improve their performance, John Thalheimer understands the dangers of poor management, and the impact it has on organizations. His core belief is that every organization and every employee deserves great leadership. He works tirelessly to help supervisors and managers to be the best leaders they can be through interactive workshops and seminars, individualized coaching, and business masterminds.