Planning and Managing Business Crises Before They Occur

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock PhotosAn effective crisis management strategy relies on versatility and ease of communication among key team members. Businesses that invest in flexible and efficient crisis management tools are better able to adapt to changing situations, and those tools have the ability to bring the business to favorable resolutions more quickly.

Defining a “Business Crisis”

A business crisis occurs when a company’s livelihood and continued existence is threatened by an external event. Examples of business crises include these:

  • Natural or man-made disasters that physically damage or destroy a company’s headquarters.
  • Product tampering.
  • Employee-propagated violence in the workplace.
  • The abduction or disappearance of a key executive.
  • Security or computer database breaches.

It is critical to have protocols in place to deal with any and all crises that could seriously disrupt or even halt business activities. Without continuity plans, any of the aforementioned events could effectively wipe a company out.

Prominent Examples of Business Crises

Recently, FedEx was involved in a business crisis when a delivery worker was caught tossing a package over a customer’s fence rather than actually bringing it to the door. Fortunately for FedEx, the company was prepared. After company leadership issued an immediate apology, FedEx posted the video captured by the disgruntled customer on YouTube, using it as a training opportunity for its employees.

In another crisis example, Buffer, the social media platform app, was involved in a cyber-security breach in which a third party hacked into its database manager using stolen passwords. The company immediately apologized, tracked down the security breach’s source, and eliminated the system loophole that permitted the breach in the first place.

In both cases, proactive management and immediate, decisive action defused the crisis. Such an approach is only possible when a plan already has been firmly established.

Crisis Management Planning: Tools and Techniques

How can you manage a possible crisis? Some effective techniques emanate from these tips:

  • Own the situation. Acknowledge what happened and apologize if it’s warranted.
  • Tell the truth, and tell it quickly.
  • Make crisis management training and planning an ongoing activity.
  • Be decisive.

Consider, too, collaboration tools that enable key organization members to act with speed, decisiveness, and unity. Agile products can support real-time control, enabling personnel to communicate and manage consequences during emergencies and other rapidly evolving situations.

Always prepare in advance for a crisis. If something happens, businesses that haven’t planned their management strategies will be left scrambling for answers while thinking on their feet, and that is a situation to be avoided at all costs.