Crisis can bring out the best and worst in people. There is fear, anxiety, uncertainty and sometimes anger and frustration. These emotions can lead to poor decision making and poor results. However, if you concentrate on three key guidelines, it will help lead you to the best outcomes no matter what crisis you and your organization may face.
- Take action quickly. There are phases to crisis response: knowledge, evaluation, decision-making, planning, action, etc. Time is critical. Don’t get bogged down by indecision or worry. Don’t think that you will have every fact double and triple checked before a decision. Be thorough and careful but move confidently and efficiently to resolve the situation.
- Put people first. Leaders can get caught up in operations—what’s running, what’s not and why—but the first step should always be asking, “Is everyone OK?” Many know this innately, but it’s worth emphasizing. Concentrate first on people—employees, family members, loved ones—and it will lead to the best long-term outcomes.
- People forgive mistakes. They don’t forgive deception. There is a tendency to want to hide from difficult situations. If we make a bad decision, it can be doubly hard to admit it to others. The reputational crisis will be over more quickly if you are transparent. With guidance from legal, share what has happened early. That allows you to move the conversation more quickly to what you are doing about the issue.
These are simple concepts that work in any situation. No one wants a crisis, but they do reveal character. It can be an opportunity for you and those around you to live out the meaning your organization’s mission and vision.