In this article, we explore the importance of the right crisis management team, including key players such as communications and legal representatives, in managing reputational risk and reactions/responses to a crisis.
At Agilent, we define crisis management as the “actions to prevent the causes of an imminent hazard, and/or mitigate the consequences of destabilising or disruptive events and to assist in recovery”. Common hazards include natural disasters, terrorist threats, IT security incidents or an industrial fire disrupting the product chain.
The term ‘crisis’ can encompass any event that impacts the operational, technological, financial, reputational, and/or legal aspects of an organisation.
To effectively respond to an unfolding crisis, a knowledgeable, skilled and well-prepared crisis management team is necessary to minimise the impact on an organisation and enable prompt recovery. During a crisis, the team acts to assess the situation as it evolves over time, analyse problems and issues to determine appropriate solutions, make vital decisions and lead the crisis response, and communicate information to relevant internal and external stakeholders.
We’ve outlined the following five key tips for forming a crisis management team within your organisation:
- Clear authority – members should have a sufficient, and transparent, level of authority and resources to make effective and binding decisions in accordance with organisational policy and relevant delegations.
- Engage experts – the role of experts within the team must be recognised when analysing problems and making decisions based on their specialist skills and knowledge, for example, the legal, moral and ethical considerations stemming from the organisation’s legal counsel.
- Identify backup resources – during a crisis, not all team members may be available, thus secondary resources should be clearly identified and have the same level of involvement in crisis planning and preparedness as their primary counterpart.
- Think on your feet – the team should comprise of individuals who are able to think calmly, logically and rationally in stressful and complex situations, and under considerable time pressures. Identify the right personalities who won’t ‘break’ or ‘freeze’ during a crisis.
- Work together – individually, the members of the team may have the right skills, authority and demeanour for their role in responding to a crisis. Team members must be able to work together effectively and complement each other’s roles amidst a disruptive event. Regular exercising of crisis management teams and associated plans is key to ensure the seamless collaboration of team members.
In today’s environment the spread of information, and indeed misinformation, occurs almost instantaneously, particularly during a crisis. We recommend that crisis management teams include representation of brand and marketing, public relations and/or communications specialists, to advise on the best strategies when issuing crisis communications to external audiences.
For more information on how to build your organisation’s crisis management team and capability, contact Agilient today.