Crisis prevention and business continuity planning is an important part of running a successful business. However, no matter how hard you work to prevent problems, there is still a good chance that one day something will go wrong. Have you thought about how you will handle unexpected difficulties? Here are a few golden rules for effective crisis management.
Never Stop Planning
It’s all too easy to put together a crisis plan and then forget about it. This is a bad idea, and can lead to a sense of complacency which could ruin your business. Your crisis plan should be an ever-evolving document. You should test (or at least review) it regularly to make sure that it works, is easy to carry out, and up to date. Whenever anything changes in your business – whether that is a new employee joining, a new premises opening, or a change in supplier, stop to think how that will affect your plan.
Know What Threatens Your Business
Take some time to think about what could damage your business. Most businesses should plan for theft, systems failure, fire, or unexpected illnesses, but there are other things that could affect your business. If you live in an area that is on a flood plain, heavy rain could be a serious issue. If you’re on a hill or in a rural area, high winds, ice or snow could disrupt transport in the area. A company that sells physical products may need to worry about product recalls or the loss of a supplier. Think about the things that would actually be threats to your business, and make sure you have a plan to handle those things.
Prepare Communications in Advance
Clear communication is an essential part of crisis management. It is a good idea to have some rough fill-in-the-blanks statements ready for any situations that you think are likely to occur. Think about the problems you might face, and the questions people might ask in that situation, and have some answers to those questions ready to go. Brief key employees so that they know what to say if things go wrong, and designate a clear chain of command so that people aren’t left running around in a panic in the event of an emergency.
The way you react during the first 48 hours of a crisis will have a huge impact on your chances of recovering from it. Make sure that you respond quickly and decisively to any problems you encounter. A quick response will help to overcome any negative perceptions that customers or suppliers may be developing, and will reassure people that the issue is being dealt with.
Make sure that you are realistic with your planning, and with the promises that you make to your customers and suppliers. It is better to keep customers informed with regular updates explaining exactly what is going on than it is to make up an un-realistic deadline and then go silent on them. If you think that you may struggle to cope in a particular situation, consider bringing in outside help. A good leader knows when to do things themselves, and when to seek advice from those with more experience.