Crisis Management

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

It seems like you can find a story about a business in crisis almost every day now. Whether it is a local social media crisis or a national news story, the businesses going through those events must handle them appropriately for their businesses to survive. 

At the TCIA Winter Management Conference  in Puerto Vallarta, we learned from Tara Goodwin, founder of Goodwin Consulting and Crisis Interception, Inc. on how a tree service can prepare themselves to be able to respond appropriately and decisively if they find themselves in a crisis situation. Because most of the attendees that I talked to about this presentation had not done any pre-crisis planning before I felt it would be a great topic to summarize for you in this article. 

Tara’s ultimate message to successfully navigate a crisis situation was to be prepared and have a built-in process for handling the situation. Every crisis will have high emotions and being able to default to a set process goes a long way in navigating the situation smoothly. 

Her first suggestion was to create a crisis team. This is a group of trusted advisors and business leaders that will need to take action or give advice during the crisis. The team will contain people from inside your organization; company president, director of operations, marketing director, safety director for example and from outside your organization; insurance agent, corporate attorney, public relations consultant, etc. Assemble your crisis team now by asking them to be included and ensuring you have access to them whenever you need them. 

After you have your crisis team in place it’s time to create your response protocol. This starts by understanding when you need to act. There are four questions that Tara suggests you ask yourself to determine if the situation you’re facing deserves the crisis management attention. 

  1. Will the people that matter to our organization expect us to do or say something?
  2. Will silence be seen as guilt or indifference?
  3. Are any others speaking out about the situation?
  4. If we wait, will we lose the ability to respond?

If you answer Yes to any of those questions you must act on the situation. 

When creating your protocol you should outline the steps that you and your team need to go through, beginning with assessing the situation. Gather the fact about the situation and notify the key personnel involved and assemble your crisis team. Together as a team you need to determine what your options for response are and decide upon which response plan will be utilized. Before a response is made, make sure to prepare the materials or information that will be needed and appoint a spokesperson to funnel all outside communication to. The crisis team should remain in consistent communication to give feedback to the spokesperson so they are prepared for any updates that may be brought to them. 

 Once you (hopefully) successfully navigate the crisis get the crisis team back together and evaluate how everything went and make adjustments to your protocol in case you need it in the future. 

If you’re still reading this, I commend you and encourage you to take a couple of hours and prepare your company for the unthinkable as it just might save your company from ruin.