Crisis management strategies are needed by any organization or company affected by a crisis. Crises can come in many forms, one of which is what is currently happening, the Corona virus outbreak.
A crisis, no matter its form, can potentially threaten the success of a business and have a negative impact on its finances. Therefore, proper strategies are needed to enable businesses to survive during a crisis. Before we talk about how businesses should deal with crises, let’s learn about what crisis management really is.
What is Crisis Management?
Crisis management is the process of preparing for and managing any emergency or unexpected situations that affect your business, stakeholders, employees, customers, and revenue. It is a critical component of public relations (PR).
Crisis management is a bit different from risk management, which requires you to assess potential threats and find the best way to avoid them. In crisis management, the threat has already occurred and must be dealt with.
Crises are not always bad for businesses. Instead, they can actually motivate companies to be better in the future. For example, many companies are investing in digital transformation by implementing web-based apps to facilitate team collaboration and improve data security when working remotely from home.
Three Stages in Crisis Management
In dealing with crises, business owners need to understand the situation they are facing so they can take the right actions. There are three stages in crisis management that can help you get best prepared.
The first stage of crisis management is preventing any potential crises. This involves planning, recruiting and training a crisis management team, and conducting simulations for implementing the plan.
We may no longer be in this stage, since the coronavirus has already spread and your company may have been affected by it. However, you never know what will happen in the next few months. Creating a crisis management plan will greatly help your business when a potentially greater crisis occurs later on.
Response to the Crisis
The second step in overcoming a crisis is responding to it and implementing the crisis management plan that you’ve already created. Keep in mind that any actions you take here must be efficient and can be promptly executed.
As an example, you can implement a work from home policy to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission as urged by the government. You never know how long you need to apply this policy, therefore you should have had an application that supports the effectiveness of remote work by now.
This is the phase where the crisis has subsided or passed. However, the crisis management process continues. It’s time for you to evaluate your strategies for dealing with the crisis, were they effective or do they need to be improved? This will help your company get better prepared when facing another crisis in the future.
How to Create a Crisis Management Plan
A crisis management plan is essential so that your company is able to reduce the impact of the crisis. Here are some of the benefits of creating a crisis management plan:
- Helps maintain your business reputation, especially in the eyes of customers, competitors, and industry leaders during and after the crisis
- Improves the safety, health and well-being of everyone who works at/with your company
- Increases productivity during and after the crisis, because everyone knows their role during the crisis
And here are a few steps to creating a crisis management plan:
Identify the crisis you are currently dealing with
Understand the type of crisis you are facing right now. Figure out whether it is caused by something internal or external, whether the impact is only felt by businesses within the industry that you are in or by businesses in nearly every industry, etc.
Estimate the impact of the crisis on your business
After knowing the type of crisis you’re currently facing, estimate the impact of the crisis on your company, employees, customers, and others. This is important so that you can choose the right solution. The following are some of the potential impacts:
- Loss in sales
- Customer dissatisfaction
- Tarnished reputations
- Increased costs
- Declining brand loyalty
Consider the actions you’d need to take
Now that you understand the crisis that you are facing as well as the impact that you might get from the crisis. You need to think of methods that are easy and quick to implement for overcoming the crisis and minimize the effect.
The crisis that you are facing right now is the coronavirus pandemic which is also faced by people all over the world. It’s the type of crisis that is difficult to predict and inevitable. The impacts that you are probably getting right now may include a decrease in sales, declining productivity due to the social distancing policy, difficulty in tracking cash flow, and communication barriers with clients.
If you haven’t done anything yet (and just letting it be), things can only get worse. Your turnover will decrease and then you won’t be able to pay your employees. If you think reducing employees will be helpful, you might want to change that thought, because you will end up with a smaller workforce to help you keep your business running.
To avoid that scenario, you will need to implement a work-from-home policy. And if this is not possible, then you should reduce operating hours and provide medical supplies (such as hand sanitizers, masks, etc.) to protect your employees. You might also want to consider using a cloud app that allows you, employees, and customers to be able to interact with each other without having to meet in person.
Give guidance to everyone involved in your plan
As a leader, you are obliged to provide guidance for everyone involved in your crisis management plan. This might include the HR team, the PR team, the business development team, and other teams you think need to be involved. Clear guidelines will make everyone understand their respective roles and prevent panic among employees (e.g due to fear of being laid off, etc.).
The current or imminent crisis should not make you anxious, because it can be a stimulus for you to prepare better strategies for dealing with other obstacles in the future. Crisis management is important so that companies can be better prepared to deal with crises and reduce their impact, thus business productivity can be maintained.