A true crisis usually comes out of nowhere and happens with little to no warning. Unless your organization’s equipped to deal with whatever disaster has suddenly arisen, it may have a vast and far-reaching impact. That’s why every single business, enterprise, organization, or group should have a crisis management plan.
While the expression failing to plan is planning to fail is somewhat cliched, it certainly holds weight in times of crisis. A business prepared to weather the storm, whether a natural disaster, data breach, PR crisis, or accident in the workplace, has a far better chance of surviving than one that's operating without policies, procedures, and structures for a case emergency.
The Benefits Of A Crisis Management Plan
Build Your Resources
By creating a crisis management plan, you will start to build a great host of resources that your company organization can use. You have a set method of getting those resources to where they need to be at any time.
Identify More Potential Threats
Crisis threats come in a vast array of shapes and sizes, from natural disasters to targeted cyber-attacks. It’s impossible to identify every single one. However, in planning your management strategy, research potential crises and identify more than you initially thought you would. You can also identify some more general crises that could crop up.
Create A Culture of communication
A key element of crisis management is strong, direct line of communication. Setting these up within your organization will allow you to enjoy good communication within your company or group at all times.
Improves Company Morale
Knowing that you have a plan to deal with a crisis will help create a stronger sense of well-being within your organization. Employees or members will know they're protected and that you're looking out for them.
Less Downtime When Disaster Hits
When it comes to business, downtime can be an income killer. If you’re scrambling to react to a crisis, you will experience a lot more downtime than you would if you had a plan with specific actions in place to get you operating again.
How To Create A Crisis Management Plan
While it’s impossible to identify every single potential crisis that your organization may face, with careful planning, you can ensure you know what to do in a wide range of different disasters. This will equip you to work your way through any you haven’t specifically planned for. Here’s how:
Pinpoint The Risks
Start with the big ones like natural disasters that could hit your region, power outages, flooding in your premises, and whether or not you would be a target for an in-person attack/robbery or an online attack/hacking. From there, you can start to define the risks into areas that are specific to your organization or company.
Define How The Plan Should Activate
Not all crises are the same, and not all crises deserve the same level of alertness. For example, if you live in an area that gets hit by tornadoes, you should have different levels of urgency in your response plan based on the severity of the storm. The same goes for a cyber-attack. Your response can differ if the hacker tries to get into company email versus taking your entire network hostage.
When writing out your management plan, make sure you stipulate levels of urgency and which elements of the plan should activate based on the level of the crisis. Detail escalation protocols so that there’s a clear path to follow if the crisis turns out to be more severe than originally thought or changes over time.
Set Out A Clear Chain Of Command
The armed forces, police, any group that regularly sees crises all work on a chain of command. Everyone reports to someone up the line until the top person makes the final decisions.
When a business or organization goes into crisis mode, a similar chain of command is necessary. This way, information funnels efficiently to the correct people, and decisions get based on the management plan.
Detail Response Plans Based On Circumstances
As with the levels of urgency and activation, the actual response plans need to be set out in accordance with the type of crisis you face. Protecting your premises from power outages differs from dealing with a PR disaster, for example.
The best way to lay this out is to use a modular approach that can plug and play into each situation. This way, you won’t have to write out entirely different plans based on each possible scenario, and your team won’t have to learn these different approaches.
Provide Training For The Necessary People
Having a proper training program in place is vital, as it will ensure a plan gets executed properly under stressful situations. All team leaders need to know what's expected of them and all members of your organization need to know what they should do.. This is why it’s essential to run safety drills based on your management plan.
If any equipment is required, leaders need to be sure that they know how to use it. For example, fire extinguishers and emergency doors aren’t something most people use every day. Some first aid training is also a good idea for emergency leaders or designated safety officers.
Review and Test At Regular Intervals
Once drawn up, the most important element of a crisis management plan is to ensure that it remains relevant. This means that you need to review it regularly to ensure that potential threats haven’t changed and that your responses are still effective.
Doing real-world tests of your management plan is also essential to ensure that all aspects work. Once you’ve run a drill, make sure you analyze the results to identify any necessary changes.
A crisis plan—or lack thereof—can make or break a business. The way your organization reacts in the face of a disaster will determine its future, and that’s enough reason to have a proper plan in place for any potential crisis that comes along.
About the Author: Kelly Lowe is a passionate writer and editor with a penchant for topics covering business and entrepreneurship. When she's not tapping away at her keyboard writing articles, she spends her free time either trying out different no-bake recipes or immersing herself in a good book.