It’s hard to predict when a crisis is going to hit. Having a well-prepared management team ready to swing into action can reduce the impact on your company and help it stay afloat.
Like change management, crisis management should be led by an authoritative, experienced team. Agility is crucial when dealing with complex crises, and teams need the ability to effectively communicate their strategy to staff, customers and investors to reassure them they’re in safe hands.
Here are five tips for forming an effective crisis management team.
1. Who should form team?
To form your team, you’ll need a variety of roles, each with their own responsibilities.
- Start at the top and head your team with someone who inspires confidence and understands the company inside and out, such as the CEO or owner.
- Every team needs a hands-on specialist to manage projects and tactical approaches. Depending on your company, operations or plant managers can be the best people to work out how to keep the day-to-day business running.
- All companies depend on their staff, so add human resource expert to your crisis management team to decide how to best protect employees.
- Make sure to include your CFO or another financial representative, to monitor the company’s vital signs round the clock.
- And don’t forget to add in IT experts to handle any necessary technology, such as remote work or disaster recovery.
2. Stay small and nimble
Keep your team small, nimble and low-maintenance to best manage a disaster. A crisis management team might be made up of just three to four people for a small to medium-sized company, or up to 12 for a larger corporate. Primarily, the team needs to be broad enough to reflect your business operationally and geographically but not be so large as to be unwieldy or prevent fast decision-making.
3. Keep meetings short and sweet
There’s no time for lengthy debates when difficult decisions need to be made on the fly. If getting teams together around a table is not an option, rely on video conferencing — especially if global staff are involved.
Short but frequent conference calls have the most impact. For example, schedule a 30-minute meeting to brainstorm the best ways to tackle the crisis, with short daily check-ins to track progress, rather than one weekly two-hour meeting. Hint: Schedule follow-up meetings for later in the day, to catch up on new developments.
4. Be ready to be flexible
From a hurricane to floods, fires and pandemics, there’s no one-size-fits-all guide to how to manage a crisis. Each event demands a different solution.
Develop a skeleton plan and have it at the ready for your first team meeting. Flesh it out as the crisis develops and your team members decide how to best respond. Agility and flexibility are the keys to success.
5. Spread the word
Don’t forget that your employees, clients and investors will be watching to see how you respond, so keep them in the loop as much as possible.
To take the pressure off key team members and keep your message consistent, assign a spokesperson to identify a core message and update people on progress. Reassure people that you’re working on a plan and will update them as the situation evolves. And make sure to respond to questions; otherwise, panic can quickly set in.
Communication is key
A well-oiled crisis management team can help mitigate the effects of even the most stressful challenges. Whatever your team looks like, make sure that one of their primary goals is effective, clear communication, both within the team and throughout your organization. Just as in change management, this type of transparency can help increase the team’s effectiveness.