Crisis Management Planning

As companies take steps to mitigate Coronavirus impacts, it is a good time to pause and assess your current approach to crisis management and planning. Here are some factors to consider as you evaluate and adjust. 

  • Communicate! In the face of fear and uncertainty, more than anything else, people crave communication. Large organizationsin particular spendtoo must time waiting to see what happens, waiting to “coordinate” messaging, waiting for just one piece of information – this waiting and the silence people see place you behind the curve. Communicate often – each time, say what you can, and say what you can’t say and why. Say things are changing fast, and you will share what you know when you know it. Just even saying you care counts a lot. 
  • When both unknowns and risks are high, be conservative. When conditions are changing rapidly, and no one knows worst case, it is rarely a bad idea to take the most conservative route. In this case, don’t wait for someone to get sick – activate the most protective approach possible to protect your staff and customers. You won’t get blamed for people NOT getting sick.
  • Acknowledge conflicts in commitments. In many areas, school systems are shutting down, and parents must figure out how to care for – and even teach– their kids while school is out. Expecting them to work full-time, even from home, is not realistic. Figure out what you absolutely must have from people in terms of actions or deliverables, and then be as flexible as possible on everything else.
  • Think decision criteria, not policy manuals. The most important step you can take right now is to empower your managers to make good and fast decisions based on shared criteria. In this case, that generally means balancing two things: keeping people safe and meeting the organization’s mission. Take them in that order, because if your people are sick, they aren’t going to be supporting your mission.
  • Tell themwhy.When giving instructions, share the thinking that informs that direction – it will help people understand your decision criteria. For example, do you know why everyone is being told to wash their hands with soap? Because soap destroys the cell membrane of the virus. Knowing why inspires action more than orders do.