Losing your head in a crisis is a good way to become the crisis. -C.J. Redwine
You must be thinking that C.J. Redwine probably restated the obvious. The reason people restate the same principle is that because of its obvious misinterpretation or rather lack of interpretation.
Before taking the baby steps lets first learn how to crawl.
Crisis or Lemonade?
What exactly is a crisis? Cambridge Dictionary describes “crisis” as an extremely difficult or dangerous point in a situation. Seems like a pretty darn scary definition right? Let's look at the root of this word. Crisis comes from the Greek word “krisis”, which means a crucial decision at a turning point of a situation.
So, it all boils down to your decision at the crucial point where things might go haywire. What are those things which are applicable you ask?
An accidental crisis is self-explanatory. Accidents caused due to human negligence or unintentional mistakes. The most common among accidental crisis is definitely fire. No type of industry is exempt from this type of crisis. The after effects are groundbreaking and can often drive a company to bankruptcy.
Natural Crisis are environmental disasters, generally beyond the control of humans. Earthquake, flood, and hurricane are a few good examples.
Conflict of Interest Crisis
This is most probably the most avoidable crisis. In fact, the majority of the article will surround this topic. And don’t let its nature of avoidability fool you with its level of complexity. This is probably the most complex kind of crisis to decipher.
Some of the common conflicts of interest crisis are-
Internal Conflict- Sounds like a lesson in HR right? That is because it most probably is. Internal conflict among employees is one of the major reasons for losing top talents in a company. One way in which internal conflict arises is due to the spreading of rumors. Bad news generally travels fast and outward. Any disturbances in an organization can and will be reflected in the outside world. If that happens then intense cleansing of the image is required which ends up burning a hole the company’s wallet.
Talent Hunting- In head to head, cutthroat corporate competition, poaching of top talents or top management is a factor of extreme crisis in a company. Imagine your top management personnel who is one of the main factors of your company performing well has been poached by a fierce competitor by attractive perks or compensation increment. This will push your company to take extreme measure to recover from this loss and more often, recovery is not certain.
Product/Service Shamming- Opponents of a company might often resort to unethical or malicious attempts to defame a company. There have been countless instances where bulk products of a company are purchased in bulk, tempered with and released in the market. Probably the most famous is the attack on PepsiCo in 1993 where their products were released by their rivals with syringe needle in them. After thorough investigation and expenses, the culprits were caught. PepsiCo had to overcome an extreme crisis with extreme measures to reinstate their image.
The different crisis can be summed up in the following infographic.
How does these crisis spring up?
If we look at these crises, we can probably classify these into two categories depending on their cause.
These crisis, as the name suggests are abrupt in nature. They occur without any warning and are a little difficult to anticipate. Accidental and Natural crisis can be categorized under this domain.
Just like a smoldering fire, these occur without any warning. Even if even detected in the initial stages they are generally ignored because of their insignificant levels. But they soon the smoldering fire that is difficult to deal with and cause a huge blow in the pockets of the company. Conflict of interest can be referred to as an incipient crisis.
Now that we are clear with the categorization we can now think of how to deal with these kinds of crisis.
If I have to make a tackle then I have already made a mistake. - Paolo Maldini
Paolo Maldini is one the greatest defender in the history of football. This statement of his takes a good approach to the crisis. If you have to think about how to deal with your crisis then you probably made a mistake. The key here is proactive management.
Maybe this will seem like an unnecessary luxury but there is a reason why many top notch companies are inculcating in their management. Because it yields results. A Crisis Communication Team is a hint you are looking for. The main focus of this team will be conducting an intensive brainstorming session for all possible crisis that can occur at your company.
In these sessions, there will be a few points to take away.
First, that these “Incipient Crisis” are generally avoidable when precautions are taken properly.
Secondly, you will know the do’s and don’ts when the crisis actually occurs.
One important point is to be noted is that your Crisis Communication Team need not be a fully dedicated team. It can be a quarterly cyclic team.
No surprises for you here. It might be very evident to you regarding what you should avoid headhunting. Yes, you are right and I have a special prize for you at the end of the article for the correct guess! You need to keep your employees and top talents satisfied. According to Barron’s millennials prefer perks over a salary increase. So if you are thinking of providing fat paychecks for your talents, it won’t do the trick. If you are confused regarding how to go about it, fret not for there are employee engagement platforms to your rescue.
In a nutshell, employee engagement platforms provide special and exclusive perks and discounts for your employees. But there are a few things you should know before going for an employee engagement program. Here is a detailed article on how you should go about it.
On top of perks and benefits, there are a few more points you should look out for.
Keeping your employees well informed helps in the smooth running of your company and maintains transparency.
Early updates regarding any event that might be relevant in the future are of utmost importance.
A monthly or quarterly review of your employees will help you identify any conflict in the workplace.
In any organisation, irrespective of the size, crisis is bound to happen. The key takeaway here is how you manage to deal with the crisis or how to put out the fire before it occurs.
One area which no one deals with or no one talks about is what to do post-crisis.
You should identify the stakeholders here affected by the crisis and the compensation should be on point and in full swing. Proper identification and appreciation of the stakeholders can go a long way in the rebranding of your brand image in case it has gone downhill.
The next thing and the most important in fact is the way you absorb the key takeaways from the crisis. Communicating the message to your stakeholders and keeping them well informed is the key here.
Most of all companies suffer because they maintain an “It won’t happen to us” attitude. This sets the ball rolling for the demise of the company.